Smoker Stories

Remembering Frank

Frank Pizzo, Rick Malir, and the Barbeque Boys

The guy in the plaid shirt is Rick, our founder and CEO; the three on the right are the Barbeque Boys, the competition team Rick partnered up with. We’ve talked about all these folks before. But we’ve never really talked about our fifth founder, the one on the far left in the red apron: Frank.

That’s not to say you never met Frank. He was at every new City Barbeque opening, working with teams in his role as Director of Training. Maybe you met him while he led one of his “Romancing the ‘Que” tastings: giving you the backstory on every menu item in his big booming voice, reminding you not to fill up on bread, cheerleading while you tried to “eat through the pain.” Maybe, in the middle of a packed restaurant, he stopped to ask how you were, where you’d come from, how your day was, no matter how crowded the joint was or how long the line. You’d know him if you’d met him, for sure: he just radiated joy and positivity.

Frank Pizzo was the restaurant industry vet who came on board to help make the first City Barbeque a functional restaurant. His decades of experience weren’t in barbeque restaurants specifically, but he took to barbeque as though he’d been loading a smoker since birth. Frank came to see that barbeque wasn’t so much a way of cooking as a way to look at life, saying, “You don’t cook something for 15 or 20 hours just for yourself.” That care for others informed so much of who he was: serving on the board of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, serving Christmas Eve dinner every year at Columbus’s Faith Mission.

Frank was all about the people. His path as director of training for a barbeque restaurant couldn’t have been more perfect for him: he was so focused on community, on serving and supporting those around him, on improving just a little every day. His philosophies on taking care of people are so ingrained in City Barbeque’s company culture that it’s difficult to separate the two. More than any of us, Frank existed to serve and create happiness.

Frank passed away on July 19 after a battle with stage 4 cancer.

He will be deeply missed by thousands of folks: friends, family, coworkers, those he only met once but made an indelible impact on with his huge heart. Some of us from City Barbeque were able to see him just before he passed away; when someone told him City Barbeque wouldn’t exist if not for him, he just said, “It was always all about the people.”

If you are so moved, memorial contributions may be made to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, in honor of Frank’s mother.