Gramboli’s Pizza Still An Indy Favorite More Than 40 Years Later
Gramboli’s Pizza has been a Central Indiana staple for more than four decades.
Owner Gert Yozipovic, who recently bought Gramboli’s from her father, says it all started with her great-uncle and grandfather.
“He moved down here with his seven kids at 47 years old, to start this pizza business with his brother. It started out as a Pizza Barn,” she says.
The Pizza Barn eventually broke off into Gramboli’s and two other franchises. At one point in the late 70s, there were 13 Gramboli’s locations.
“They were all over,” Yozipovic says.
Yozipovic says that after her great-uncle died most of the locations closed.
“The last two were the one that was on 38th and Mitthoeffer, that one opened in 1978, and this one here [on Pendleton Pike] that opened in 1980,” she says. “Then the two brothers ran those stores separately. My uncle Steve ran the one on Mitthoeffer, and my dad bought this one from my grandpa in 1980 and then I purchased it from my dad starting January 1.
“I have worked full-time here since right out of high school so, like, 15 years,” Yozipovic adds. She says her husband, Will, who she has known since they were kids, began working at the restaurant when they started dating.
“The first pizza he ever went to spin he threw it right in the trash,” she says. I didn’t think we were going to make it.”
When people ask her if she ever gets sick of eating pizza, Yozipovic says no.
“I just put something else on it. ‘Okay, maybe I don’t want pepperoni pizza today, but I can still eat pizza.”
She says her favorite pizza is either a plain hand-tossed pepperoni or a large deep-dish Gramboli’ Special with banana peppers and bacon on it.
Gramboli’s is and always has been a family affair.
“His sister works here. My sisters work here. Back in the day, everybody used to do it,” Yozipovic says.
Even the name, Yozipovic said, is derived from her maiden name, Graham.
“We bring our girls to work with us every day. I used to come to work with my dad every day. It’s just a family place,” she says.
Yozipovic believes it’s this family atmosphere and a simple approach to pizza that makes Gramboli’s unique.
“We keep it simple, and I think people like that,” she says. “We’ve changed some over the years, but only what’s been necessary. And it’s a family place. Kids come in here and talk about how they used to come here with their parents. We have so many regulars that we know by name and have made so many friends. They love seeing us here.”
The secret to Gramboli’s longevity, according to Yozipovic, is good customer service and consistency.
“We’re in here every day,” she says. “And it’s always been that way. It would be hard to come in here and not find someone who is in the family making pizzas. I think that’s a big part of it. Demand has gone up so much in 40 years. We’ve had to change the way we do things because we used to do it on such a smaller scale. We have a little more outside-of-the-family employees now. We just try to keep the quality the same.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Gramboli’s to make necessary changes. The restaurant’s dining room was closed until June 1.
“I would say it really killed the lunch business, especially in the beginning when nobody was going out at all or nobody had to go to work or school or anything,” Yozipovic says. “It was completely dead in here. We used to have a buffet and we don’t do that anymore.”
She credits the loyal customers Gramboli’s has earned over the years with keeping the restaurant open.
“The night always stayed busy,” she says. “We have so many loyal customers, and I know in the beginning people were so worried about us, just with the toll it was taking on restaurants. People didn’t want to see us go. We were getting crazy tips. One night we were having to tell people an hour and a half on carryout, which is unreal. We normally say like 20 minutes. People have been really supportive. It’s been great.”
Four decades in the pizza business has taught Yozipovic and her family how to endure tough times.
“Pizza always seems to be a necessity,” she says. “We find a way to survive.”
Gramboli’s Pizza is located at 11733 Pendleton Pike in Indianapolis. Hours are 11 am – 9 pm Monday through Thursday, 11 am – 10 pm Friday through Saturday and noon – 9 pm on Sundays. Delivery is available 6 pm – 10 pm Tuesday through Saturday. Call them at 317-823-4466 or visit them online at grambolispizza.com.