Mama’s Island Pizza under new management
Sherry Grippo is the new mama, but it's the papa, her husband Larry Grippo Sr., that is tossing pizzas.
"This is his gig," she chuckled.
Lest Mama's devotees gasp in panic, the Grippos are using the original recipes for Mama's dishes.
They moved to Hawaii about 19 months ago and bought the Kailua business in February from longtime sportscaster Ken Wilson and his wife Marlene, Mama's first mama.
Wilson has been hired as president of the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League, based in Wenatchee, Wash.
"The pizza business was really successful and that was gratifying, but the opportunity to be back in baseball was really an overwhelming opportunity," he said.
For the Grippos, the restaurant business was an overwhelming opportunity.
Larry Grippo is a retired airline captain and federal flight deck officer. The latter is a post-9/11 role for which he was trained to have a gun in the cockpit. "I carried a gun for our country for about three years," he said. He never had to, um, deploy it.
Thus far he has not needed a sidearm for pizza-slinging.
Prior to the airline career, he put himself through school in California helping to run a pizza business, and he always wanted to get back into it, Sherry said.
She, on the other hand, is the food-service industry veteran, having run high school and middle school cafeterias in Indiana. She comes to her owner-operator role after working in quality assurance at Food Solutions, Zippy's central kitchen operation.
Both are excited about their eatery and in about a month, will have finished putting their own touches on the place while keeping it running.
They are adding to the menu, the beers and sports channels, adjusting decor and getting a new sign, but will not change Mama Marlene's recipes.
The wings "are awesome," she said.
Ken Wilson had said that too, but whaddayouexpect, he's a sports guy and it's his wife's recipe. Fuhgeddaboudit.
"I'm not a wing eater, but I'm addicted to them now," Sherry said. They fly out of the kitchen, often three orders for one table. She changed purveyors to get larger wings, but they are still prepared Marlene's way.
Between existing staff and new hires, Mama's is up to 20 employees, including drivers who make deliveries only in Kailua, from 4 p.m. weekdays and from noon on weekends.
The Grippos' three Mililani High schoolers pitch in at the restaurant when they're not busy with swim meets, or in their daughter's case, swim meets and water polo.
Mama's is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The restaurant is located at 108 Hekili St. Call 624-6262.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org