This sign is located at N41 51.631 W80 57.086
Capo’s Pizza opened shop at Geneva-on-the-Lake on July 4, 1965 – the day of the “riots.” Frank Sr. and Mary Ann Capo got the idea of opening their shop at The Lake after taking a wrong turn during a motor trip Memorial Day 1965. The Capos already owned a shop in New Brighton, Pa. They were heading for Conneaut Lake Park, Pa., on that Memorial Day when they got lost and ended up at Geneva-on-the-Lake. Impressed by the crowds and atmosphere, Frank began researching options for a pizza stand. Their first shop was on a rented lot roughly across from their present location. They sold their pizza slices for 45 cents each, and everything was going great for them until word of the riot reached their stand. Soon, police were telling them and all other vendors on the street to close up and go home.
Despite the rocky start to their business, the Capo family continued to work The Strip that summer and kept returning year after year. They operated out of The Barn for several years, and after that location changed owners, in 1970 they signed on with Martha Woodward at the present location, corner of New Street and The Strip.
A heritage of great pizza
Pizza making has been in the Capo family’s heritage for years. Prior to opening Capo’s Pizzeria on Route 18 in New Brighton, the hometown of Tony’s family, they owned the Pizza Oven in Hornell, N.Y., Mary Ann’s hometown. The family owned that business from 1959 to 1961.
Frank and Mary Ann lived in Hollywood, California, in the early 1950s. Frank ran a pizza shop there, and the shop was located across the street from a studio where television shows were produced. GOTL regulars who stopped by to visit with Frank would be entertained by his stories from those days in California. Alex Zimmerman says Frank told him that he appeared in a “I Love Lucy” television episode, the one where Lucy learns to toss the pizza dough in the air. Frank served as technical adviser on the set and is briefly seen in the episode. Tony and his wife, Pam, own both the GOTL and West Main St., Geneva, shops. Their son, Tony Jr., assists them.
Capo’s Pizza, 50 years on The Strip:
What makes Capo’s pizza so delicious? Tony says simplicity and consistency are two reasons. Their recipe doesn’t change; it’s the one Tony’s father used decades ago. And they keep it to just a few basic ingredients. They also bake their pizzas in a hearth oven, on stones rather than in pans. He estimates that only 10 percent of the area’s pizza shops go to that bother.
The Capo Pizza shop on East Main Street in Geneva is owned by Tony’s family, as well. They opened at that location in February 1977 and serve an expanded menu that includes subs. Visitors may notice a mural of the Isle of Capri on the side of the building. Tony says the mural is a replica of a painting that hung in the family’s other restaurant, Capo’s Villa, on New Street, GOTL
Capo’s Villa was operated by the family during the summer months from the late 1960s to early 1970s. Tony said the riots brought on a decline in business at The Strip and was a factor in the Capo family closing the restaurant.