"As Chairman of the National Black Wall Street Chicago Organization and on behalf of Rev. Michael Carter, National President of the National Black Wall Street USA organization, we offer our collective congratulations to the 40th Year Anniversary of Reggio's Pizza, a legendary and historic Black owned and operated business from Chicago, led by Mr. John Clark. Mr. Clark and this business is a true testimony to the spirit and example of the original Black Wall Street in using his own resources as a pizza worker from the Black community to being a Pizza business owner and now pizza manufacturer with the support of his wife, Black community financial institutions and of course the core consumer spending power from the Black community, and through his growth has sustained and increased his business, and jobs has remained in the heart of the Black community. He is to be commended for his ongoing support of so many local and national Black community economic and political empowerment including the development of Black Wall Street Chicago and its growth into the current National Black Wall Street organization, the legendary Black radio station WVON, Operation PUSH and The Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and others, as well as the political efforts of so many including Chicago's first Black Mayor Harold Washington, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr and Barack Obama. In his 40 years as a community resident and in business there are so many who could not have accomplished what they did as a person, in business, and politically without years of reinvestment from Mr. John Clark and Reggio's Pizza. We again congratulate Mr. John Clark and Reggio's Pizza on the 40th year anniversary and look forward through our new Rev. Willie T. Barrow Consumer Education and Consumer Action Project of National Black Wall Street Chicago to sustain and increase the business of Reggio's Pizza as a historic business institution with its products across the country and still anchored in the Black community of Chicago. He is a shining example of what can be done when one exhibits the spirit and example of Black Wall Street."
Mark S. Allen, Chairman of National Black Wall Street Chicago, 4655 South Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, Suite 203, Chicago, Illinois 60653 773-392-0165
REGGIO’s PIZZA CELEBRATES 40th ANNIVERSARY
By Chinta Strausberg
Reggio is the only frozen pizza manufacturer in the city of Chicago. Reggio’s distributes its products to most major supermarket chains in 40 states and is celebrating its 40 anniversary. Headquartered at 340 W. 83rd Street in the West Chatham community, Reggio’s operates the 36,000 USDA-inspected square foot state-of-the-art processing facility where his diverse employees make the pizzas. Ironically, Mr. Clark worked in pizza restaurants when he was in high school and college both in Chicago and Washington, D.C. where he met his wife, Pearl, who was then attending Howard University. Mr. Clark always wanted to be an entrepreneur so he and his wife, Pearl, had a semi-scientific feasibility study conducted about going into the pizza business in the Chatham community.
The couple opened their first pizza restaurant at 730 E. 87th St., but it wasn’t easy. “We mortgaged everything we had in order to build out this facility,” he said of their current 340 W. 83rd Street. The start up for manufacturing frozen pizza was also not easy. “We mortgaged everything we had in order to build out this facility,” Mr. Clark said of their current 340 W. 83rd Street headquarters. With the help of loans from the Independence Bank and then Illinois Treasurer Pat Quinn, Mr. Clark was able to obtain some creative financing that enabled the Clark’s to build out the building that was once home to the 7-Up Bottling Company. It was a huge building where trucks were once stored, but the Clark’s followed their dream. Mr. Clark is a man of many talents and excels in the management of his business, which has grown to five Reggio’s restaurants. Today, Mr. Clark and his wife have 110 black, white and Hispanic employees and have helped them excel in their careers including launching a student training program that has helped high school and college students obtain professional jobs in their own disciplines including in the pizza industry even at his own place of business where he hired his current director of sales and marketing and his chief financial officer after they graduated from college.
“We also give them healthy work environment where they learned how to interact with other employees and supervision. That is very helpful to them for going forward whether they plan to pursue a formal education or plan to work after high school. It was good training,” said Clark. Mr. Clark is extremely socially conscious in that he makes contributions to civic, social, educational and religious organizations including contributing to two scholarships to students at the Chicago State University. Always one step ahead of the industry, when First Lady Michelle Obama called for new guidelines in school menus to help reduce childhood obesity, Mr. Clark worked with General Mills and developed a whole-wheat pizza crust that was tasty and nutritious long before other companies took up the challenge. This was done essentially for CPS in 2010. Mr. Clark’s business acumen and ability to excel and grow netted Reggio’s numerous coveted awards such as the “National Supplier of the Year” 2010 award presented by the National Minority supplier Development Council (NMSDC). He was selected out of 16,000 companies. Mr. Clark received the “regional Supplier of the Year” from the Chicago NMSDC region. But, Mr. Clark is no stranger to awards. In 2001, he received the United States Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)’s “National Minority Retail Firm of the Year” award.
Reggio’s has a college intern program that provides job creations and right in the neighborhood where most of the applicants live. One of the programs that the Clark’s are most proud of is Reggio’s intern program where high school and college students are given the opportunity to work in their area of discipline. Two of Reggio’s current senior staff members are products of this program. The director of sales and the chief finance officer came through this program. Most recently, Mr. Clark and Mrs. Clark are inductees of the “Hall of Fame” at the Chicago State University. Reggio’s urges young people to become entrepreneurs because he believes there is a direct correlation to economics and the quality of life. Reggio’s recently make a presentation to another business student at the Chicago State University where he mentioned and encouraged the African American students to seriously consider becoming an entrepreneur and to start businesses in the African American community. Reggio feels we need to build a strong economic base in he African American community thereby improving the eco-social conditions. While Reggio’s continues to improve upon his pizza company, he is always thinking about improving and expanding his product and that includes fighting for more shelf space, his most significant challenge. Reggio’s is always thinking about innovating and improving its pizza product line including expanding and fighting for more shelf space which is Reggio’s most formidable challenge. Reggio’s wants to express its thanks to all of its customers for their continued support of its products and the stores that carry their products for the past 40-years, and Reggio’s looks forward to getting better every single day. Reggio is proud of its “pizzeria taste in the freezer case.” ###
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Tags: Barack Obama, Black business, chairman national black wall street chicago, Chicago, chinta strausberg, john clark, mark sallen, national black wall street chicago, NATIONAL BLACK WALL STREET USA, Operation PUSH, rainbow/push, Reggio's Pizza, rev michael clark, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr