Iryna and Ihar Dziatko emigrated from Belarus 14 years ago. When they came they spoke no English and had a seven-year-old daughter to care for. The couple has known nothing but hard work since the day they arrived, attending school full-time to learn English while also working full-time. In 2008 they opened their own business, a Sarpino’s Pizzeria franchise in a prosperous suburb of Chicago called Naperville. They did so well they knew they wanted to expand further with Sarpino’s, however the Chicago area was fairly filled up for the very popular pizza chain based in Lincolnshire, Illinois.
After much thought and discussion with their franchisor, the couple sold the Naperville store in 2011 and opened a new store in North Aurora, Illinois in 2012. One year later they sold that location and now had enough savings to relocate to Atlanta where they could bring the Chicago pizza brand they loved to the southern jewel of a city. Their first Sarpino’s Pizzeria at 1000 North Side Drive NW, serving the greater Midtown area, opened last November.
So successful has this venture been that the Dziatkos recently signed a deal to open 11 additional stores in the midtown and downtown area, three a year according to the agreement.
“Chicago is a crowded market for Sarpino’s,” Ihar adds. “We were successful in Chicago and love the product so we decided to be the first to bring it to a whole new market. We have had much success introducing this product to many people who, until now, have never had access to it. Here there are colleges, businesses, hotels full of new customers—each one of those provides us with a unique opportunity to introduce Atlanta folks to pizza straight from Chicago.”
The couple attributes their success in business to their work ethic and the dynamics of their relationship. They work together as full-time co-managers at their current Sarpino’s Pizzeria Atlanta location, a business arrangement that stood the test of time in Chicago and looks to endure in the Peace State. As they expand they will clearly add to those duties.
“We work well together,” says Ihar. “It’s easy because we understand each other perfectly and we have the same perspective. Plus, we like interacting with people. We are used to the very long hours but we love our customers, so it’s enjoyable for us.”
Prior to going into business for themselves, Iryna, 43, was an accountant for property management companies in Chicago, and Ihar, 44, worked for a construction company specializing in plumbing. He’s still able to put his former career skills to good use in Atlanta, supervising the ongoing construction work as their hired crew built their first location. Now he will undoubtedly supervise the building of the new locations they add.
“We came here with nothing, with no one to help us,” says Ihar. “But we survived, and we worked hard. Look where we are now!”
Sarpino’s Pizzeria currently has 49 fully operational locations in eight states across the U.S. They have a total of 65 fully executed franchise agreements. They expect to have 50 locations open by the end of 2015 and 350 locations within five years. Target markets with current store opportunities include Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Virginia and Washington, D.C.