LENNY’S PIZZA became famous in 1977, when John Travolta ordered two slices of Lenny’s pizza and ate them piled on top of each other “double-decker” style in the opening sequence of the hit movie Saturday Night Fever. The pizza shop was founded in 1953 and has been run by Frank Giordano and his family since 1983.
"My father bought this business in 1983 after it already had appeared in the “Saturday Night Fever” movie. At that time, Bensonhurst was a very Italian neighborhood and we lived nearby. My father came to this country from Italy with about $500 to his name and slowly started saving money by working nights at a pizzeria on 42nd Street. That was when 42nd Street was full of prostitutes, drug dealers and crack users. He eventually bought his own pizzeria in East New York but sold it after being robbed many times at gunpoint. When he bought Lenny’s Pizza, he worked 12–13 hours a day, seven days a week, helping grow the business into what it is today. He started offering all different types of pizza for sale, not just regular and square Sicilian slices. Now we have the whole Baskin-Robbins thing going for pizza, with it being offered with many flavors, styles, and toppings.
I started working here when I was ten years old, cleaning trays and tables. My family is a very traditional Italian family, which places an emphasis on working and learning the value of things. I remember that I was able to buy my first Nintendo with money I saved from working here. It took me a long time to reach the pizza oven because I was only five-feet tall, but now I make the pies and work 10 to 12 hour days helping my father run the business. I went to culinary school after high school and after graduating, I added whole-wheat pizza and gluten-free pizza to the menu to expand our offerings for more health-conscious customers. We take pride in being a family restaurant, and we care about our customers. I know all my customers by name and that is why even with the poor economy and many of our patrons having lost their jobs, we have not raised our prices as much as we really should have. We are fortunate that we own this building, but the price of raw materials such as flour and cheese has increased greatly. I just don’t have the heart to add to our customers’ stress by raising prices. Brooklyn is the best place to be and we are not leaving." — Josephine Giordano second-generation owner
(Image and text from our book NEW YORK NIGHTS)