GIOVANNI’S PIZZA — St. Paul’s Oldest Restaurant

© Jerry F. Couch

Back in the 1970’s, I worked at S & S Corporation at Claypool Hill.  My co-workers and I typically had lunch at eating establishments in Cedar Bluff and Richlands.  Around 1976 a new pizza restaurant, “Giovanni’s Pizza” was built in a downtown Richlands shopping center.  We tried it out and all of us thought it was great.

It was so good, in fact, that I would sometimes drive from St. Paul to Richlands on Saturdays (a 2.5 hour round trip) just get pizza for my family.  We were delighted to learn that St. Paul would be getting a Giovanni’s of its own on Broad St. in the former Stewart’s Furniture building – easy walking distance from our apartment across Fifth Avenue from Big M.

Later, Garnetta Horner told me that when she and her husband, Frank, obtained their Giovanni’s franchise in 1977, she received training at the Richlands Giovanni’s.  Having moved from Broad St. to Fourth Ave. years ago, they are still with us.  The restaurant established by Frank and Garnetta continues to be operated by the Horner family, AND their food is just as good as it was 43 years ago. 

Giovannis Grand Opening 1977

During the years I lived in Central Virginia, I often brought friends to visit with me at Mew.  Part of the reason for doing this was so they could get a glimpse of the Appalachian way of life that is so dear to me.  After all, people come here to see the things WE have, not a synthesized version of what THEY have.  Giovanni’s was and still is one of my favorite places to take out-of-area visitors because of its home-like atmosphere.  It has been with us during the best of times and the worse of times. 


At the Clinch Valley Times, we pride ourselves on thinking “outside the box.”  However, there are times when we absolutely MUST think “inside the box.”  We did that on Monday, and the box you see here contained a BIG ham & cheese pizza – just the right size for David and me.  If you want one like it, you’ll have to wait.  Giovanni’s owners and employees will be on vacation From July 1st until Monday July 6th 2020.




The Giovanni’s Pizza Man, participating in the 2012 St. Paul Christmas Parade

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These are the folks who make those terrific hot ham & cheese subs pictured below!

Giovanni's Hot Ham & Cheese Subs 2

In memory of Garnetta Horner who departed this life January 4, 2017


NOTE:  The following information about the Giovanni’s franchise history comes from the company’s website:

James “Jim” Lemaster was born on February 8, 1938 in Catlettsburg, Kentucky. He grew up in Wheelersburg, Ohio and graduated from Wheelersburg High School in 1957. He met and married Nancy (Grant) Lemaster and spent time working at Westinghouse Corporation in Columbus followed by working midnights at Detroit Steel in New Boston, Ohio. Jim’s parents were bakers and had always concocted pizzas in the family kitchen.

Throughout the years, Jim never forgot where he came from, or the people that had helped him along the way. He realized his success would never have been if not for his customers. Jim’s focus on quality, community, and people has been instrumental in Giovanni’s continued success and are reflected today in our core values. Jim’s legacy continues as not just a pizza place, but as Giovanni’s Pizza; local-owned restaurants by great people achieving their dreams, serving one-of-a-kind quality food, and sharing Jim’s vision by becoming a vital part of their local communities.

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