SACKVILLE, N.B. – A warm and comfortable atmosphere. Beautiful chandeliers and light fixtures hanging from tin ceilings. A collection of family photos denotes three generations of restauranteurs and tell the Zappia family’s story.
Servers are friendly and knowledgeable, and the wonderful aroma of spices and sauces and the promise of excellent food awaits. These are just some of the things that greet the senses when you enter Joey’s.
Emigrating from Calabria, Italy, the Zappia family opened their first restaurant in Ontario in 1954. In 1973, father Dominic and his family opened his restaurant, Antonio’s, in New Brunswick. This was followed by one in Sackville in 1979, a small take-out on York Street. By 1984, this had grown into a licensed Italian restaurant and had moved to Main Street. This restaurant was sold in 1988.
Joey’s came about when Joey Zappia, Dominic’s son, opened his restaurant in September 1988, selling pizza slices from a small window in what was then Steve’s Tavern. Sister Anna and brother Lenny joined Joey in 1991 and Joey’s grew again. Joey’s restaurant moved to Bridge Street before going back to York Street, where it remains today.
Leeya Hicks is now owner of Joey’s Pizza and Pasta. She says although the Zappia family is no longer actively involved in the day-to-day operation of the restaurant, nothing has changed in terms of the food served. She is proud all the food served at Joey’s is made on-site, from the sauces to the meatballs. All the meat used is sourced from Boudreau’s Meats in Memramcook and the pizza dough is hand-stretched to size and cooked in a stone oven. As a new owner she is determined to keep the same "made-by-hand" approach that Anna and her Dad used before her.
How did Leeya become owner of the Zappia family’s restaurant?
“I had been here for a few years and Anna (Zappia) was at the point where she wanted to step back from the business to spend more time with her family,” she said. “When this opportunity arose, my husband and I discussed it and decided to make an offer. My girls were grown up, so I had the time to devote to it.”
Leeya has been the owner since May 2017 and hasn’t looked back.
“I have the best staff, many of whom have been here for a number of years,” says Leeya.
She currently employs 16 full- and part-time staff. She admits that she didn’t experience a lot of the issues of a start-up business since she took over a well-established operation. She credits much of the continued success of Joey’s to her very capable staff and says they all have respect for each other and work well as a team.
About three years ago, Joey’s opened a Pub.
“Adding the pub has allowed us to further expand our menu to a more traditional pub fare,” says Leeya. Choices like steak and nachos are now available. The pub features live music every Friday night and Leeya says it has become a social destination.
In addition to the restaurant and the pub, Joey’s does a substantial licensed catering business. Leeya says they have catered everything from small groups to weddings and sports teams. They work closely with Mount Allison University from time to time to assist with conferences and sports events. On top of that, Joey’s hosts the Rotary Club for breakfast once a week.
Joey’s has upped their presence on social media with Facebook and Instagram and a new website will soon be ready. Joey’s offers specials throughout the week advertised on Facebook. In addition, for every four lunches purchased, the fifth is free and there is free delivery in town after 4 p.m. From time to time, there are contests for free meals on social media.
Leeya says it’s amazing there has been such longevity to Joey’s in a small town like Sackville. She says sales remain good all year round and during the summer, the outdoor patio attracts locals and visitors alike.
Coming up on Joey’s 30th anniversary, Leeya is proud of her business and happy with her ongoing relationship with the Zappia family
“Have you met Dominic?” she asks. “He still lives here and at 79 drops in from time to time to socialize.”
When she first took ownership of the restaurant, it was early May and Convocation was two weeks away. On top of that, her father-in-law passed away around the same time.
“Anna and Dominic are such an amazing support group,” she says. “Anna came and worked two 12-hour days to help me through my early days.”
You’ll find Joey’s Pizza and Pasta at 16 York Street in Sackville. The restaurant is open Sunday to Wednesday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; and Thursday to Saturday 11 a.m. – midnight.
You can call for reservations or to place an order at 506-536-4040.