Sterling Heights

After 26 years in the business, restaurant industry vet celebrates opening their own pizzeria

What’s happening: After more than 20 years in the restaurant industry, Chad Ryan finally has something to call his own. He’s cooked, bussed tables, washed dishes — “Anything in a restaurant, I’ve done,” he says — but now Ryan is the proud owner of Mama Cookin’ Papa Eatin’, an Italian-style pizzeria and eatery that operates out of the kitchen at Stardust Liquor Shop in Sterling Heights. Currently operating under a “soft-opening,” a grand opening celebration is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 12.

Mama Cookin’ Papa Eatin’ is located at 35800 Van Dyke Ave. in the Stardust Liquor Store in Sterling Heights.What it is: Mama Cookin’ Papa Eatin’ serves a variety of square and round pizzas, fresh cold cut sandwiches, Philly cheese steaks, mac-and-cheese bites, egg rolls, and more. Nearly everything is made from scratch and by hand, Ryan says, from the homemade ranch, aioli, and vinaigrettes to the pizza sauce (his grandma’s recipe). “If you order a sandwich, we slice the cold cuts off right in front of you,” he says. Items are available for carry-out, delivery, and dine-in at one of the shop’s three two-top tables.

Backstory: The shop name and logo honors Ryan’s grandma Dolores Ryan, née Pancotto, and his wife’s grandpa, Carl Caldrone. Ryan’s great-grandpa was an Italian immigrant, he says, and he grew up in his grandmother’s kitchen, where he and his family would gather while Dolores cooked her authentic Italian dishes. The pizza sauce is her recipe. His first job was at 14-years-old, working at the Big Boy in Hazel Park. It’s there where he decided that he’d own his own restaurant one day.

What they’re saying: “When my business partner and I decided that we were going to do this, I went home to my wife and broke down. I’ve spent 26 years in this business and finally took a chance and said that I’m gonna do this,” Ryan says. “So I broke down a little bit. But they were happy tears.”

Mama Cookin’ Papa Eatin’ is located at 35800 Van Dyke Ave. in the Stardust Liquor Store in Sterling Heights.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.