Whenever someone steps inside the swinging glass door, an aroma of Italian spices flowing from the brick oven give them a warm embrace, revealing a family atmosphere formed more than 50 years ago.
Pasquale’s Pizza and Pasta is believed to be the oldest restaurant in Marshall County, maybe even the state of Alabama. Since 1967, it has been sharing slices of its delectable pizza and crafting scrumptious sandwiches to the community, all topped with a warm smile.
Growing up inside the walls of the beloved local restaurant, owner and operator Alan Hales has witnessed the importance of family and its impact on the company. That’s why since buying the business from his father, Gary, after graduating from the University of Alabama in 2001, family continues to play a major role in its operation – whether that’s genetic family or work family.
“When Bromleigh and I both have to be somewhere, maybe with the kids or something like that, that’s when dad comes into the mix,” Hales said. “He’s the best backup in the world. Who better to call than … somebody who had the place for 18 years. He comes by almost every day and he still tries to be as involved as he can.
“I think that [family] is one of the biggest aspects of this place, and it’s not just us,” Hales continued. “You look at the employees that have been here so long; they’re not employees anymore. We’ve got two that have been here 30 years and we’ve got five others that have been here over 10. ”
After tying the knot in 2006, Hales and his wife, Bromleigh, have worked together as a team. Hales has also seen that his son and daughter, Parker (9) and Piper (7), could be a great help to the business one day; Piper already enjoys coming to work. He said the kids being there is not only helpful, but it serves as a platform to teach them an important life lesson as well.
“When Piper started getting into riding horses, we started pushing the ‘you don’t get what you wish for, you get what you work for’ aspect of things,” Hales said. “Growing up when you got something, you used that until, literally, you couldn’t use it anymore.”
To learn this lesson, they had to take part in chores around the house, but Hales said that quickly escalated into working at the restaurant. Hales said Piper helps by cleaning dishes, sweeping or filling cups with ice; doing some of the things Hales did for his father when he was 4 or 5 years old. Hales said when Parker finds his niche, he expects him to be involved more as well to help work for the things he may need.
Today, the 37-year-old believes the secret to the family business’s success is “change but no change” and staying family driven – and Hales intends to keep it that way.
“Your future in any business is decided by your community,” Hales said. “Tastes change and areas change, and you just have to adapt to that. As for internally, we’re not going to change. We’re obviously a family-run business and it will always stay that way in some shape or form … to keep that nostalgia a part of it.”