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posted: 3/3/2014 1:01 AM

Wayne's Pizza celebrates 50 years in Arlington Heights

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Daily Herald staff report

An interview with Tony Gillig, co-owner of Wayne's Pizza in Arlington Heights.

Q: Describe your business.

A: We are a carryout and delivery pizza restaurant. We have been a family owned business for 50 years.

Q: What made you start your business?

A: Bob, my father partnered with Wayne and opened another location in Round Lake. The partnership was short lived and when they split in 1976, Bob took over the Arlington Heights location and Wayne took the Round Lake store. My father wanted to go into business for himself to provide a better life and more opportunity for him and his family.

Q: You have been around a long time. What is the secret to your success?

A: We take a lot of pride in our business. We are open 7 days a week, 360 days a year. We have great connections with our customers and past employees which has been amazing. Having seen 2 and 3 generations walk through our door is something that we take great pride in. We have also kept our recipes the same and would never think of changing how we prepare our food to save a dollar in food costs. Our bottom line is we want to treat people like we would like to be treated when we walk into a restaurant ourselves. The little things go a long way.

Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?

A: Operating a business has been a roller-coaster ride. Most of all I enjoy working with new people and teaching them the things that got us to where we are today. Showing todays youth how to be the best at what they do and instill good work ethic is something I hope they keep with them forever. I enjoy thinking of new ways to improve and streamline how we operate without cutting corners. I also enjoy or customers who stop in and I get to chat with them a bit and get some insight on who they are, what they do and what is going on with them.

Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young?

A: I have been around the business since I was 6. I started to work here when I was 14. I went to college to become an accountant. I left after 2 years and came back to Wayne's. My dad and I were pretty involved in drag racing and I hoped to be a professional race car driver one day. I did live that dream for a few years but ultimately I stayed with the pizza business which was a more stable choice. In 2005 my dad and I became partners in the business and in 2012 he finally retired after 36 years here.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: The never ending change. With social media, franchises popping up on every corner and todays generation, business has become very challenging. I am up for the challenge but it is a very different world than it was 20-30 years ago. ... Becoming complacent is something I never want to happen to me, I feel it will be the beginning of the end.

Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?

A: Work hard, work smart and don't cut corners to save a dollar. Don't be a clip board toting owner. Work with your employees and be involved in all facets of your business.

Q: What is one fact that most may not know about your business?

A: We have occupied the same location since day one, 50 years ago in 1964.

• Every Monday we feature a small, suburban business. We want to hear about yours. Contact Kim Mikus at kmikus@dailyherald.com.

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