I was leaving a Manchester Lion's Club meeting recently at Manchester Pizza and Grill, when I saw Lenny Sanchez working in the kitchen. I asked Lenny if he would be interested in talking about his business for Manchester Patch, and he agreed to an interview on a Fridfay afternoon when he and co-owner Alex Lazaridis would be working together, before the rush for pizzas began. After talking to Alex and Lenny I got a tour of the pizza kitchen as things started to get busy. Everyone was in motion and six drivers got ready to deliver the hundreds of pizza that are sold each weekend.
Timothy Becker: Alex, how would you describe the type of food offered at Manchester Pizza and Grill?
Alex Lazaridis: Manchester Pizza and Grill offers Greek and Italian food including steaks, pasta, seafood, pizza, salads and grinders with a full delivery service.
Timothy Becker: How did you get started in the restaurant business?
Alex Lazaridis: I grew up in the business. My parents Angelo and Juliana, who will be married for 38 years in March, opened their first restaurant in 1984, in Ludlow, Massachusetts. I stared at age 10 as a go-fer, by age 14 I was cutting pizza, and by 21 I had learned cooking from my parents.
Timothy Becker: How did you wind up in Manchester?
Alex Lazaridis: In 1989, a family friend recommended Glastonbury as a good location for a restaurant. My parents opened up “Angelo's” in Glastonbury in late 1991. Lenny started working with us in 1997 when he married my sister Silvia. My parents bought the plaza here on Green Road in 2003, and Lenny and I took over the Manchester Pizza and Grill in 2005.
Timothy Becker: I understand that you recently renovated a portion of your restaurant.
Alex Lazaridis: We added a new lounge with a full liquor selection that can accommodate parties of up to 35 people and in the back we can host up to 60 people. We also offer catering or our customers can pick up catered meals here.
Timothy Becker: What unusual pizzas are on your menu?
Alex Lazaridis: We offer the “Neopolitian” which is a vegetarian pizza made with basil, olive oil, and tomato. We also have the “Red Bliss” pizza made with red potatos, sour cream, broccoli, florets, and bacon. The “Pollo Gorgonzola” is very popular. That is made with chicken, spinach, tomato, garlic, and with ricotta, crumbled Gorgonzola, and mozzarella cheeses.
Timothy Becker: Lenny, how did you and Alex become business co-owners of Manchester Pizza and Grill?
Lenny Sanchez: I was born in Puerto Rico. I was six years old when I came to the United States. I learned to speak English in about three months. There wasn't a second language teacher. My parents were very strict about learning the American culture. Alex and I have known each other forever. We went to Metcalf Elementary School together in Holyoke, Massachusetts. My only experience was working as a dishwasher as a teenager and KP (kitchen patrol) in the Army. When you marry a Greek girl you have one clear path.
Timothy Becker: Where did you learn to cook?
Lenny Sanchez: I learned here on the job. I also do some plumbing, carpentry, and I'm cleaning all the time. I also make the bread and pizza dough.
Timothy Becker: What do you like most about your job?
Lenny Sanchez: Being a restaurant owners is a tough job, but there is nothing like working for yourself. We sponsor Little League, youth soccer and youth basketball teams. We feel that we are part of the town and that people depend on us.