SALEM - Steady and predictable. Like rising dough in a hot oven, Josie's Pizza has stood the test of time and outlasted countless pizza shops in Salem.
This is its 40th year, according to co-owner Kathy Jones, who partners with her brother John Flick to keep the pizzas, fish and shrimp dinners and chicken strips moving through the oven.
Their mother Josephine opened the business in October of 1972, long before the big franchise operations took hold of the market.
Then, it was pretty much Mario's and Josie's in Salem.
Jones said her mother ran the pizza shop at the old Penn Grill for Dick Hippley and Tony Layton and decided to go into business herself.
It was Josie, her son Norm, Kathy and John.
"Norm did the dough, mom and I made and baked and John delivered," Jones said.
The business has run from its storefront at 147 S. Lundy Ave. and not much has changed except that a 12-inch cheese pizza cost $1.25 then.
The same pizza at Josie's is $6 today and they still deliver to outlying areas, but about as far as they'll go is Colonial Villa on Goshen Road, Jones said.
"Mom always wanted to keep the prices low and in 1973 we tried to raise the price a dime and she got mad and made us change it back," she said.
Service, price, top ingredients and a loyal clientele equals 40 years of success.
"There have been a lot of pizza shops come and go," Jones said, "we have a loyal following, especially the older people ... everytime somebody new (pizza shop) comes into town we slow down but they come back."
She explained, "To me it's the sauce. That's what makes it ... that's the one thing you can make that tastes different."
Josie's uses six ingredients ... undisclosed of course.
The business buys it bread for its French bread sandwiches from Hogan's Bakery in Columbiana.
"We've always used pretty good quality stuff," Jones said.
"It's worked for 40 years, so we figure why change it?"
She said about 80 percent of the orders are for pizzas and Thursday through Sunday is the busy time with Friday still king of pizza nights.
"We used to get real busy after the games," she said and the fast-food people got into it by staying open later. But it's come back around ... our customers keep coming back."
Josie's location is "tucked away" on South Lundy Avenue and Jones said the word-of-mouth references usually get customers to them
"We'll have people who don't know where we're at and people tell them ..."
One interesting aspect is pickups and deliveries are about evenly split, Jones said, explaining that rainy weather increases deliveries but also cell phones have added to the pickup orders.
People are out somewhere and decided to order and call in on their cell phones and pick the pizza up on their way home.
"Cell phones have helped that ..." she said, adding pickup pizza take about 20 minutes to a half hour while delivered it's about 45 minutes.
The business employs two full-time and three part-time people.
Larry Shields can be reached at email@example.com