RIDGEFIELD PARK, N.J. — Pizzerias are scattered across all of New Jersey, but a neighborhood pizza place like Dante's in Ridgefield Park can become a part of a town the longer it's around for.
Dante's Owner Danny Lita knows how a local pizza place can contribute to a sense of community.
"It’s like Cheers where everyone knows your name," Lita said.
Lita has had his pizza place in Ridgefield Park for over twenty years. He's seen kids grow up and families move in and out of the area.
He originally went to school for accounting but decided he loved the restaurant business more.
"I was exposed to the environment [of a pizza place] early — being around people constantly," Lita said. "I enjoy talking to people."
Over the years, Lita has amassed numerous stories about the memorable characters who walk through his front door.
One of which was Manny Delton, a musician who claimed to be better at guitar than Jimi Hendrix and better at singing than Michael Jackson. Lita was skeptical but let him perform in the back of his store a handful of times.
"He was a good guy, really good guy," Lita said.
Lita says that Ridgefield Park has had some changes over the years but it's mostly the same.
"Very close knit community and they help each other out," Lita said.
"They come together when one is in need."
Dante's does it's own form of giving back through pizza certificates for kids who read certain books in school or are seen wearing their helmets when riding bikes. The two programs are coordinated with the local school and police department.
Lita, a Cresskill resident, said he's more familiar with Ridgefield Park than his own neighborhood.
With two decades of experience under his belt, Lita has plans to expand to other areas around New Jersey but hasn't solidified any details.
Dante's Pizzeria is located at 214 Main St, Ridgefield Park, NJ 07660.