Canadian Franchise

It all boils down to values

Sam Primucci looks back on his career and life, sums up his work ethic in four key values


Every June, people ask me for comments on my Italian heritage. Do I value it? How has it shaped me? In what ways? The reality is, I recognize the value of my Italian roots every day of the year. They have shaped me in every facet of my life and work. Looking back on my life, and 60 years of Pizza Nova, I can confirm it’s played a significant role in both the personality of our brand and, more importantly, the foundation of our culture.


As we close the books on Italian Heritage Month, I am happy to share four main values I have carried with me over the last 60 years.


The first value is work ethic, or “etica”. As a child, I was blessed to see, firsthand, the work ethic of my parents, and even my grandparents. Similar to most of us, they juggled heavy burdens. That didn’t stop them from putting food on the table and encouraging us toward a future of our own. I am eternally grateful and hope that I’ve passed on this work ethic to my own children, grandchildren and Pizza Nova employees whom we consider family and, of course, our partners.

Next is community, “comunità.”  My family and I immigrated to Canada in 1951. Like so many Italian families, we arrived with hopes of a better life. We left our working farm in Palazzo San Gervasio, Italy and came to Canada for an agricultural opportunity in Montreal, Canada. Some Italian families were made promises that did not work out.   The community stayed close, and many started to work together to help each other learn, build, and establish connections and roots. We moved to Toronto when I was just 12 years old and, in Toronto, we found the Italian community and heritage to be very strong. My father worked alongside fellow Italian immigrants and was able to set up the roots we needed. He bought the first Primucci home, giving us the foundation and community we needed to thrive.


It is because of the strong unity and support of the Italian community that we were able to thrive, and thrive we did. The idea of a take-out pizza restaurant was born when my younger brother was delivering pizzas for a Toronto restaurant and noticed a pattern of deliveries. We opened the first location on May 12, 1963 – eleven years to the day after we immigrated to Canada.


From the beginning, giving back to the community was an extremely important part of our business. Beneficenza” is a family value, and a way of living that I that I learned from my Italian heritage and that I knew needed to be a part of our company. Success is meant to be shared and, looking back, I think we’ve done a solid job in supporting the communities where we work and live.


Today, the Pizza Nova family remains active members of numerous communities. The company has raised well over 2.5 million dollars for Variety – the Children’s Charity of Ontario, over $750,000 for Villa Charities, and approximately $100,000 for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. Through Coins for Breakfast, a program we started in 2015 in support of Student Nutrition of Ontario, we have been able to raise more than $220,000 to provide children with a nutritious breakfast. To commemorate the occasion of our 60th anniversary, and in honour of the Scarborough community where we opened our first Pizza Nova restaurant, the company recently announced a $1 million dollar donation to Scarborough Health Network (SHN) Foundation. The funding will help create Toronto’s most innovative diagnostic imaging department at its General Hospital. We worked hard, and we are now in the fortunate position to be able to give back.


I’ve always concluded that it’s a blessing to have work to begin with. We’re born with a desire to create things, to relate with others and to rest a bit to then do it all again the next day. And, more pressing and palpable than all of that, we need to put food on the table, invest in our families and old and new friends, and hopefully leave the world a better place. That requires hard work – and quite a bit of it. If there is one thing, I hope for everyone in the world, it’s for a job and fair, stable pay. We all want to have dignity in our work, “Dignita del Lavoro” a value my family and Italian heritage has certainly taught me. Without being treated with dignity and respect we are left with a meaningless purpose.


After 72 years in my adoptive country, I am grateful for the opportunities and truly value being Canadian. But my foundations are Italian and it’s this that afforded me my initial lessons in life – an inheritance that I know will withstand the test of time for me, certainly, and for Pizza Nova.