CRYSTAL LAKE – Ever since Brian Coli opened Georgio’s Chicago Pizzeria & Pub in downtown Crystal Lake in 2002, the accolades have rolled in.
From being voted the best Chicago-style pizza at the Chicago Pizza Fest to being named one of the top-100 independent pizzerias in the nation by Pizza Today magazine, Coli is no stranger to recognition for his work.
But it was the most recent award of being named Business of the Year by the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce that Coli ranks as one of his greatest accomplishments because it means his business offers more than just pizza.
“My first experience with the Crystal Lake Chamber was as a caddy for their golf outing when I was in junior high,” Coli said. “To come this far means a lot. It’s nice to be acknowledged for doing the right thing and to know that we’re making a difference.”
Coli’s passion for pizza is only matched by his passion for community service. Having grown up in a family that owned a pizzeria, Coli said he always knew he wanted to run his own place after graduating from the University of Iowa.
To be able to come back to his hometown and find the success that has led to locations in Hoffman Estates and South Barrington within 12 years is more than he imagined.
“I had dreams of having a successful business that was an active part of the community, but I didn’t know how that would play out, or what would come first, a successful business or a business that had a positive impact in the community,” he said. “Georgio’s didn’t start out by being as involved as we are today, but we always did as much as we could.”
The business’s role in the community has grown over the years as Coli has made it a point to help with non-profits, schools and families in need as well as hosting fundraisers, donating gift certificates and sponsoring local youth sports teams and programs.
Coli’s next fundraising effort is Aug. 5 where proceeds of sales will go toward the family of Alana Subleski, who recently suffered from five brain aneurysms including one that ruptured.
Coli credits a lot of his increasing community outreach to the Leadership Greater McHenry County program he recently completed. He said it opened his eyes to all the organizations in the county and the networking possibilities.
“When you first open a business you get a little sense of the community and some of the mom-and-pop type places,” Coli said. “But LGMC really went a lot more in-depth about organizations in the county as a whole and how to help each other.”
As his charitable efforts grow, so does his business. Coli said now that he has solidified a place in one of the toughest industries to crack in the Chicago area, he plans on expanding into the suburbs, city and beyond.
“You can go and have some success in other parts of the country if you have an average pizza,” Coli said. “If you want to make it in this area, you have to have something special and unique. There is a lot of competition out there.”
Georgio’s Chicago Pizzeria & Pub
What is it? A pizzeria in downtown Crystal Lake that named one of the top-100 independent pizzerias in the nation by Pizza Today magazine
Where is it? 75 E. Woodstock St., Crystal Lake