Training and support employees received in the restaurant led to a ‘funnel’ of successful businesses and pizzerias in the Portage and Kalamazoo area. Many … had worked in their youth for the Scavones.
By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe
Some people leave a lasting mark on a community and the people around them. Gaspare Scavone, known locally as simply “Jasper,” and his wife Bina were people like that.
The Scavones learned their work ethic during their early years in Sicily. It was there Gaspare learned to work hard at whatever he could find, eventually meeting and marrying his beloved Bina in 1977. Soon after their marriage, the young couple emigrated to the United States where they joined Bina’s family already operating a pizzeria in Kalamazoo. Gaspare and Bina started Scavone’s Pizza on Burdick Street. In 1983, they bought Jaspare’s Pizza in Vicksburg.
Todd Glenn, the present owner of Jaspare’s Pizza in Vicksburg, worked for the Scavone family while in high school. He remembers his time working with them fondly. “Gaspare and Bina were hard-working people. I’ve never heard anyone say a bad word about them.” Glenn remembers Bina bringing the Scavone children to the restaurant after school and described the environment the Scavones created as firm but also nurturing. Glenn is confident the relationships the Scavones built with employees and customers solidified the business’s success.
Gaspare continually offered guidance to his teenage employees, saying things like “Go to school. Study hard.” According to Glenn, the training and support employees received in the local restaurant led to a “funnel” of successful businesses and pizzerias in the Portage and Kalamazoo area. Many of these restaurant owners had worked in their youth for the Scavones.
Bina died in 2004, and not long after, Gaspare sold the business. He traveled extensively, met and married Alla Aleksa, and returned to the area. And until recently, Gaspare was still a familiar face in the restaurant, often coming into work and visiting with Glenn and the employees. After a difficult illness, Gaspare died in mid-September. Glenn and his employees still can’t believe he’s gone.
The Scavone’s life together is a love story of commitment to their children, extended family and community. It’s also an inspiring story of possibilities: of building a successful business, of mentoring employees, and of encouraging future business owners.
Theirs is a legacy of honesty and hard work.