Brian Parrish had a stressful job jetting across the country three days a week while working on Wall Street financial plans with Fortune 500 executives.
That stress finally took its toll last October when the 50-year-old Upper St. Clair resident had a heart attack while vacationing in Aruba. He spent five days in a hospital there before returning home to have two stents placed in his body.
As traumatic as the experience was, it gave him a chance to reset his life and do something he always wanted to do: open a pizza parlor. Now he’s making a different kind of dough.
He bought the former Raya’s Pizzeria on Bower Hill Road earlier this year and recently changed the name to Big Guys Pizza. Parrish said they went through a range of names, but settled on the new one “because, well we’re all big guys.” Parrish, who worked at pizzerias while in high school and college, now runs the shop with help from his sons, Brian Jr., Brendan and Tyler.
“I’ve always thought of this,” Parrish said while looking around his shop. “I’ve always wanted to do this.”
Parrish kept the popular sandwiches the same, but tweaked the pizzas to make them a more New Yorker style dish, and he wants to eventually add pasta to the menu. Now he and his sons are working to spread the word of the new shop, which they did last weekend by selling more than 40 pizzas during Bridgeville’s Day on the Avenue.
He’s still trying to master some of the administrative work like juggling staff and handling the books. But he has received a lot of help from his son, Brian Jr., who managed a popular pizzeria in Morgantown, W.Va.
“We’ve been doing really well,” Parrish said. “You struggle a bit when you first open until you get into the rhythm of things.”
And most importantly, Parrish is enjoying what he’s doing at Big Guys Pizza. He said the stress is less now and he enjoys going to work each day.
“I’m loving it. I’m not making money right now, but I’m enjoying spending time with my sons,” Parrish said. “I now deal with down-to-earth, great people.”