Joe Paglianite, one of the founders and co-owners of Grotto Pizza, has passed away, according to a post on the Grotto Pizza Facebook page. “Joe Pags” created Joe’s Pizza, the restaurant that later became Grotto’z Pizza, at Harveys Lake Pennsylvania over 70 years ago. The Grotto Pizza chain itself originated in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware in 1960, and has since expanded across the state of Delaware and into Maryland and Pennsylvania, even opening a Columbia location in 2016. Below you’ll see the full social media post announcing his Joe Paglianite’s passing.
“It is with a heavy heart that I must inform our extended Grotto pizza family that Joe Paglianite, who was my uncle as well as founder and co-owner of what we now know as Grotto Pizza, passed away on Wednesday, May 11th.
The man we all knew as “Joe Pags” leaves behind a legacy that will forever be felt in northeastern Pennsylvania. He created an iconic restaurant beloved across multiple generations for great service, a welcoming atmosphere, and, of course, a signature pizza recipe dating back over 70 years. Grotto Pizza at Harveys Lake and the locations that followed have served as hubs for their communities and a source of gainful employment for thousands over the decades.
The restaurant business was his passion, but his commitment to our area went even further. In 2010, he contributed to Luzerne County Community College to help create the Joseph A. Paglianite Culinary Institute and later founded the Joseph and Erma Paglianite Charitable Foundation, which has distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to regional charities in recent years.
Joe touched the lives of so many, including those whose first job came at our restaurants as well as recipients of the Culinary Arts scholarship he introduced at LCCC in 2009, and the multitude of families who have shared a Grotto Pizza around the dinner table since the 1950s.
His absence creates a hole in the hearts of all who knew him, but his presence will remain in the business he cultivated, the organizations that benefited from his philanthropy, and in every one of us who owe him a debt of gratitude for building the foundation on which our restaurants stand.