Founder: Gaspare (Jack) and Zina Fallucca Founded: 1979 Industry: Pizza


In 1954, Gaspare ‘Jack’ Fallucca and his wife Zina immigrated to the United States with a dream of owning there own business. They settled in Milwaukee, where Jack started out as a dishwasher at the Pfister Hotel. He moved on to positions in construction, laying tile, roofing, and welding. Finally, the dream of owning his own business became a reality when he opened an Italian bakery in 1964 on the east side. The original bakery sold only Italian breads, cookies, and cannoli. The first expansion included making Italian soups and sandwiches. The company was going well; so they acquired the hardware store next door to expand. In 1969, The Fallucca’s opened a pizzeria and restaurant next to the bakery to satisfy the customer demand for the homemade Italian foods. Soon after, the Milwaukee Journal named Palermo’s “Milwaukee’s Best Pizza.” When the article came out, a local grocery store owner was so impressed that they urged Jack and Zina to go into the frozen food business. For a few decades, Palermo’s had the bakery, restaurant, and the frozen pizza section. By 1983, the frozen pizza business outgrew its south side operation, so they added a larger bakery. In that same year, 1983, Palermo’s introduced a new product, Zina’s Thin Crust Pizza. Business continued run smoothly until 1989, when Palermo innovates the first frozen pizza with a crust that rises while it bakes. After this innovation, instant success occurred and made production increase drastically. It was such a hot commodity, that other pizza manufacturers quickly began developing their own version of this crust. Now the rising crust pizza is common throughout the world when it comes to frozen pizza. In the early 1990s, Palermo’s entered in the Private Label Business, which allowed them to sell more pizza around the world. They also introduced the very first super premium private label pizza at the same time. Innovation at Palermo’s never stops, in 2003; they introduced the Primo Thin pizza, which was there first ultra thin frozen pizza. Since the Primo Thin came out on shelves around the world, it’s been recognized as the company’s flagship brand. In 2007, another crust creation was introduced, the hearth-baked crust on a frozen pizza. An imported Italian marble-hearth oven allowed Palermo’s to create the first American domestic hearth-baked crust. This type of pizza is created with intense heat that makes air pockets and gives a crispy crust, similar to an Italian wood-fired pizza. A variety of other pizza crusts have been introduced throughout the years allowing them to expand drastically which included a large expansion in 2006 to a site in the Menomonee Valley Industrial Center.

The above portion was taken from and


The Palermo way includes three missions: social mission, product mission, and economic mission. The social mission refers to the commitment to the relationship with society, especially with investing in the community through stewardship. The Product Mission refers to bringing families and people together by sharing a meal with authentic Italian tastes and high product quality. Customers are the foundation of the business, “If customers are satisfied with our products and believe that our company reflects their personal values, then we will be successful.” They also include the entire health and wellness charts on there website so the customers can check the accurate nutritional information. The economic mission refers to the winning culture at Palermo’s to meet the profit goals and drive increase in sales year after year. The culture at Palermo’s Pizza is built around the Fallucca family. Palermo’s treats all its employees with the same respect as if they are apart of the original family.

The above portion was taken from


A couple from Italy, Gaspare ‘Jack’ and Zina Fallucca moved to Milwaukee where they finally made a dream come true of opening an Italian bakery in the United States. As the company expanded into a restaurant, the pizza was so good that grocery stores wanted frozen versions to sell in store. Palermo’s has then innovated many popular types of crust to be available in frozen pizzas, and will continue to satisfy their customers with every quality pizza sold. Palermo’s continues to be family owned and is such a well-respected company to work for because they treat all their employees like family. Palermo’s pizzas will continue to bring families and people together by sharing a meal with authentic Italian tastes.

Download the PDF HERE

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.