In the not-too-distant-future, Nicola Pizza will be moving to Route 1 near Lewes, but it hasn’t happened yet, which means the restaurant was able to celebrate one more milestone in downtown Rehoboth Beach – 50 years of business.
“It feels great. It’s gone by so fast. It feels like we’re celebrating the first year,” said Nick Caggiano Sr., who founded Nicola Pizza in 1971 with his late wife Joan. “It’s been a great run. It feels like it’s all just happened.”
The Caggianos opened the original Nicola Pizza on North First Street, which quickly became famous for its Nic-o-Bolis, and then opened a second location on Rehoboth Avenue in 2010.
To celebrate its golden anniversary, Nicola Pizza was giving away T-shirts, pens and postcards June 11. Both restaurants had a display of red and yellow balloons with a big 50 on top, while the original location on North First Street had more red and yellow balloons inside, and a spot set up outside for people to take pictures on the special day.
The anniversary gift customers were most happy about was the rolled-back price of a large cheese pizza, because Nicola was offering it at the price when it opened in 1971 – $2.25.
Kelly Munyan, longtime general manager and the daughter of Joan’s twin sister Janet, helped organize the 50 days of Nicola Pizza trivia that took place on the restaurant’s Facebook page in the lead-up to the big day.
“Even I learned stuff about the restaurant,” said Munyan. “Some of our customers know the history of Nicola better than the family and employees who have been here a long time.”
Munyan was busy handing out goodies. She knew the pizza special would be a hit, but not how big of a hit.
“I’m not sure how many pizzas we’re going to sell,” she said, laughing. “It’s summertime, on a Friday. That’s why we didn’t advertise it too much.”
Tom Graham and Scott Forman aren’t decades-old customers, but they have been coming to Nicola Pizza regularly since 2012. Finishing up one of the cheese pizzas, Forman said the pizza always tastes good.
“It’s even better when it’s at the special price,” he said.
Graham estimated they come at least once a month – especially for Eagles games. Due to COVID, the day of the anniversary was the first time Graham and Forman had eaten in the restaurant for over a year.
“It feels good to be eating in the restaurant,” said Graham. “I’m going to miss this place.”
Waitress Pat Mutchler has been at Nicola for 43 of the restaurant’s 50 years. She said she hadn’t planned on being around this long, but it’s been a place she’s felt comfortable for a long time.
“I wouldn’t still be here, if I wasn’t,” said Mutchler, in between serving tables.
Ed Colodny and his family weren’t in town specifically for the celebration, but when the 95-year-old heard it was happening, he made sure to visit – he had eaten at Nicola the summer it first opened. It’s been a lot of hard work and dedication, said Colodny to Caggiano, who returned the compliment.
“It’s been a success because of customers like you,” said Caggiano.