Growing up as a teenager in the Falls, Judy Muto never imagined she'd end up in the pizza business.

She might grab a slice of her favorite pie from Frenchy's on Niagara Street as she headed home from school. But working there was about as much as she saw in her future.

"I would tell (Frenchy's-then owners, Andre and Rita Miljour) if they needed help to let me know," Muto said. "I thought I might work there."

The Miljour's hired her at the age of 17, and 37 years later, she says, "It's the only job I've ever had."

"I started out doing clean-up and prep," Muto recalled. "And then I moved up to cook and working the counter. I did everything."

Seven years later, Judy's husband Victor took the family full speed ahead into the world of pizza making. Working at the time as the safety and health coordinator at Union Carbide, his employer made him an offer he could refuse.

"They wanted me to relocate to Arkansas," Victor said. "I told them I'd think about it and then I started looking for other opportunities."

His dad had left a job at one of the other chemical plants in town and built up a fish market business in the City Market on Pine Avenue. Victor asked him what he thought of the pizza business.

"He told me you're gonna work 60, 70, 80 hours a week," Muto said with a laugh."I came home and told the kids, 'Daddy's gonna be working a lot of extra hours now.' "

The Mutos took over Frenchy's from the Miljours on Oct. 11, 1990. They both say it's been an interesting three decades on Niagara Street as a neighborhood institution.

"It's kind of that little hole in the wall (place) that just does an incredible volume (of business)," Judy said. 

And she said her father-in-law was right about the work involved in owning a business.

"I'm there 40, sometimes 50 hours a week," she said. "You gotta keep a close eye (on the business). You gotta be there, hands on. If someone calls off on a Friday night, I know I'm cooking."

Victor said when he and Judy took over the pizzeria they expanded the kitchen and the dinning room. They also built up a loyal base of customers and roster of good employees.

"You're only as good as your employees. You need good people," Victor said. "I've had a lot of good employees. For 30 years, I've been pretty fortunate."

Included in those employees were his own children.

"I honestly never thought I'd spend 30 years here," he said. "Even when I first got into it. But my wife, she loves the business."

And so as Frenchy's heads into it's 30th year under the Muto's ownership, the 363 days a year (they're closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas) process of pizza making will keep on going.

"And we're gonna do something special on Oct. 11," Victor said. "We're working that out."

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