Coming Home for Dinner: Crown Pizza


Back in September of 1988, a Waterford staple was born. Leo and Konstantina (Tina) Vitsas bought Crown Pizza off of Boston Post Road, where it remains an iconic pizza stop for Connecticut residents close and far. 

The original building needed immense amounts of repair, love, and care. “We never knew it was a pizza place,” says co-owner, Tina Vitsas,  “it had no windows, a wooden door… we didn’t even know it was a restaurant”. After a two week period of preparing and renovations, people started lining up at the door. Many customers were eager for the seafood Crown had to offer. “People didn’t expect a small pizza place to have seafood” says Tina. The Crown Pizza menu has remained similar since it first opened, the only real changes were the different variations of pizza and its toppings. Over the years, the restaurant has developed specialty pizzas like their infamous Taco Pizza, Chicken Bacon Ranch, and now a new Mac and Cheese topped pizza. Above all, Crown’s authentic Greek style and friendly environment is what skyrocketed the restaurant from the beginning.

Leo and Tina have two children together, Taso and Zaffy, who have also been raised in the restaurant environment. Taso and Zaffy started working at the restaurant in their early teens as a part-time job, which led into full-time commitments later on. Taso, who attended UConn Avery Point, commuted between school and work. Zaffy went to college at the University of Rhode Island, where she was unable to make both commitments between the restaurant and her education for that time. “I’ve tried other jobs,” says Zaffy, “I worked at Coca-Cola for a little bit and worked here part-time. I eventually grew more (to the restaurant) so I left Coca-Cola and I’m now here full-time.” Zaffy has a huge part in Crown Pizza’s advertising on Facebook and Instagram, as well as Crown’s major renovations that took place back in 2016. 

Covid has impacted small local businesses the hardest, many have had to close their doors for good. Luckily, Crown Pizza was able to keep their doors open (and opened another window). Tina compromised with the loads of takeout orders by creating an impromptu drive-thru window on the side of the building. “The drive through was a big hit,” says Zaffy “she (Tina) opened the drive through window and said ‘Wow, makeshift drive through!”. The window on the side of the building is dedicated for takeout customers to drive up and get their food. Through March until present, Crown Pizza was lucky enough to keep the orders flowing when transitioning into quarantine. “Most of our orders are takeout anyways,” says Zaffy, “of course we would have people sitting down, but 80% of our orders were takeout.” Waterford residents were known to pile into Crown Pizza after a big game at the high school; a slow, rainy day; or Friday night comfort food. Making a drive-through window requires a bundle of legal paperwork. Luckily Crown was able to continue their small service out of the side of the restaurant, until they are able to pursue a real drive-through in the future.

The Crown Pizza family encourages customers and other local residents to support other small businesses. “We like to support other businesses like ourselves” says 

Tina. It’s important to help other small local businesses thrive, especially during difficult times like this. The Vitsas family emphasizes that their successes over 40 years at Crown Pizza, wouldn’t be existent without customers like their own. “We get to love this job because of you guys (the customers)” says Tina. Crown Pizza will continue to run their business to no ends meet.