We had the good fortune of connecting with MERITA KRAJA and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi MERITA, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I am a civil engineer by education. I was hired to design and construct the restaurant and when the client could not continue and start the place, I had to make a difficult decision. I finished and took over, my idea was to run and sell later. My friend, came from Italy to help and teach me how to cook and manage a restaurant. September 11 happened, I could not sell it, I own Euro Pizza Cafe for 2o years now. I had another baby, my mom moved in with me and the restaurant gave me more flexibility to be with the kids and have a business. I am a single mom of four and the kids grew up doing homework here and playing at the park nearby. I embraced my new adventure for also gave me an opportunity to be part of a great community and meet wonderful people.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Euro Pizza Cafe started with a lot of challenges. It was very hard to juggle a full time job and being a single mom and a daughter. Originally I did not know anything about owning a restaurant, I learned how to cook, how to prepare menu meals etc. I could build you one, but I had no idea how to run it. All I knew, failure was not an option. Not a lot of people get discharged from the hospital and go to the business with a newborn. I did what I had to do, sometimes working 15 hours days, sometimes with crutches, sometimes from ER where I had an IV and come back. But I love my job, and every morning I can not wait to hit the ground running. What I want people to know is that Euro is the friendliest restaurant, where you can feel like home and get comfort food. Euro has won the best pizza award for the last 8 years. Every ingredient and dish is carefully picked and made with love. Any dietary need will be fulfilled and every customer is a welcomed guest treated with outmost respect. One of the things that I am proud of, is the younger workers that work here. Students from high school or college. I am honored to be part of their growing up and teaching them work ethics and life lessons. Euro welcomes diversity.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This one is easy, I get visitors from out of state or out of the country all the time. Grand Canyon and Sedona are a must. Arizona is amazing, you have the mountains, the desert, museums, the Native culture, fancy restaurants or the different cuisines. I love Indian food, Thai, Middle Eastern. Hiking is one of my favorite hobbies. We have amazing views and trails, nature is healing.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have the most amazing staff and their hard work has a lot to do with the success of Euro Pizza Cafe. The community here is very supportive and they encouraged and embraced us from day one. My kids are my inspiration. I was lucky to have a great upbringing, my parents were the best anybody can have. The Alchemist is my favorite book. I am originally from Albania; Being raised in communism though, makes you appreciate the USA freedom, and the lifestyle, also, gives you an unlimited drive to become successful.