Chicagoans love their deep-dish pizza and so does Naperville. So when the owners of Little Pop’s New York Pizzeria brought their east coast style to town, they had some hesitations.
“We were very nervous, we were scared the customers wouldn’t come in because it was ‘New York’,” said Little Pop’s Co-Owner Mike Nelson.
The Nelson family had an uncertain future when they opened the Naperville pizzeria, but thought it was the best path forward.
“Bummed around from different job to different job trying to make a living to feed a family of five here in Naperville. We didn’t know anything about the pizza business and I called my nephew who’s got a Little Pops in New York and I said “Hey Stephen are you willing to share, and help us with the recipes, I found this little pizzeria,” said Nelson.
Naperville Meets New York
When Little Pop’s opened in 2014 they smelled success and started growing. That eventually led to a sweep of award wins at the first ever Naperville Pizza Wars fundraiser earlier this year, where Little Pop’s took home best sauce, crust, and overall pizza.
But as the COVID-19 global pandemic loomed, like so many mom and pop restaurants, Little Pop’s was once again faced with uncertainty. But their faithful customers rallied pre-shut down.
“We opened up for service that last night in the dining room, and it was packed. The support was just amazing, it was actually our busiest night, we sold our gift cards at a discount, and the neighborhood really came out and loved on us and wanted to make sure we were going to be okay.” Nelson said
Little Pop’s Finds Big Success
Since then, their business has continued to thrive and grow during the stay-at-home order. They’ve done so well that an oven upgrade was in order, for a new pizza oven that can cook 200 pizzas an hour.
They’ve converted their outdoor dining area into numbered tables where customers can pick up their food order, changed their indoor dining location into a walk in cooler, and even have plans to expand further next year.
All while paying homage to their namesake, and grandfather of co-owner Vicki Nelson, Little Pop himself.
A name set to live on in the Naperville dining scene for years to come.
For more on the Story of Little Pop’s Pizzeria, checkout a documentary about them on YouTube: “New York Pizza Dreams”
For Naperville News 17, I’m Ryan Skryd.
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