Sam’s Pizza Palace has been family owned & operated since 1947. Sam Spera, like many Italian Americans, came to the United States looking for a better life: Moving from the small town of Valalba, Sicily, Sam and his wife Anna immigrated to Trenton, NJ in 1951. Hard times meant hard work and Sam found himself juggling up to two jobs to support this new American family of five.
Sam was meant for the food industry! His first business venture was that of a “Lunch Truck” that delivered homemade sandwiches and soups to the workforce at various factories located throughout Trenton. A favorite among the workers, Sam’s business thrived as he offered quality food at a fair price – a lesson that has stuck with Sam for over 50 years.
In the spring of 1957, Sam was asked by a friend to take a drive down to the Seashore town of Wildwood. With an abundance of sunshine, a cool ocean breeze, beautiful white beaches and a three-mile-long boardwalk packed with throngs of visitors walking upon its planks Sam knew immediately – This is where he wanted to start a business.
It was that summer Sam started his Wildwood Boardwalk Business Adventure and has never looked back.
After a two-year partnership running a boardwalk restaurant called Marconi’s, Sam ventured out on his own to open his first restaurant called Sam’s Steak House located on the Northside of 26th Street, where Gateway 21 is currently located. Truly a family business, Sam’s Steak House served only sandwiches and sodas to patrons in his small restaurant, consisting of 5 tables and a 15-stool counter. A family affair, you would find Sam & Anna with their kids, Rosemary, Tony & Rita working side by side developing a local reputation and clientele that has lasted to this very day.
With this dedication, Sam’s business continued to grow and he eventually expanded the Steak House taking over the lease of a long time Boardwalk business, Mary Cross Candies located next door. Sam knew he needed to sell more than Steak Sandwiches to support his growing family and business… so he proclaimed to Anna “Let’s give Pizza a try!” Purchasing a small pizza oven and relying on an old recipe handed down from his Sicilian roots for pizza dough, Sam started turning out slices of Pie for 15 cents each. A smart decision… as it helped his business grow eventually leading him to move to the Southside of 26th Street where Sam’s Pizza Palace is currently housed.
Why is Sam’s Pizza Palace so successful? Is it the Pizza dough, the sauce, the cheese? Is it the location or the family atmosphere? Is it the familiarity of seeing the same faces year in and year out? There is not a day I have gone into Sam’s without seeing Mr. Spera keeping a keen eye on the business, while Tony and Manuel make the pies with Stephen at the grill and Anthony (Z) running the operation. How many times do you see Roe or Rita run up from the hotel’s front desk to grab a slice or say hello to someone walking by for a slice or two.
Or is it the fact that they have the ability to hire a group of hard working kids that seem to enjoy going to work and return to Sam’s year after year as they finish High School, move on to College and beyond. Today, we see a 3rd generation of the Spera Family members as Sal, Toni and Dante have all taken on roles in the family business.
Come see first-hand why Sam’s is a favorite among the Wildwood locals, summer visitors and the many second home owners who spend their leisure time in the Wildwoods.
Wildwood, NJ 08260