February Employee Spotlight: Aria V!

Since 1983, Zachary’s has been making award-winning pizza in the San Francisco Bay Area. When Zachary’s founders, Zach Zachowski and Barbara Gabel decided to retire, they handed the company over to the employees via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). In 2010, Zachary’s became 100% employee owned.

For February we are shining a light on Aria, our Oakland and Berkeley Office Manager. Aria, who started with Zachary’s in 1999, has been with us since before our transition from private to employee-ownership. Aria felt the pressure of taking over a successful company from two inspirational founders, as well as the honor and responsibility of continuing the Zachary’s legacy.



Name: Aria V.

Hire Date: September 1999

Home Restaurant: Rockridge & North Berkeley

Favorite Pizza: Stuffed Spinach & Mushroom, pesto inside, pepperoni on top.

Favorite Activities: Spending time with family on outdoor adventures, softball, and baking.

Aria’s Claim to Zachary’s Fame: Aria is the creator of the Enchi-Holla seasonal special pizza! You can see her taking a bite out of her signature pizza further down the interview.



Aria was interviewed by Zachary’s Marketing Manager Robin Smith on February 2nd, 2021. 

Robin (R): Hi Aria, thanks for sitting down with me!

Aria (A): Of course!

R: Let’s start at the beginning, when did you start at Zachary’s and what made you decide to work here?

A: I started at Zachary’s after I graduated college basically, September 1999. Graduated college, moved home, and then the, you know, “What am I gonna do now?” (laughs). So I had that moment and, just kinda enjoyed my summer. Had a summer job, that ended, saw Zachary’s was hiring and…I grew up right up the street on Ocean View, so knew about Zachary’s and I didn’t come here that often, but I knew people that worked here. So, of course you know, Timmy K was working here at the time and he was like,”Oh yeah! You gotta work there, it’s so you, it’s so you, you’ll like it.” So I applied and still here (laughs), 2021.

R: So, after twenty…?

A: 21 years. In September it’ll be 22.

R: What has made you stay these 22 years? What’s been the driving factor that has been, “I’m willing to stay at this job for this amount of time?”

A: Right, yes, great question. Cuz a lot of people ask me that like, “Daaang, you’ve worked there for that long!?” It’s unusual for someone to work [at a job], especially in a restaurant, for that long, and it’s basically one thing, it’s the people. It’s the people that started the company, the people that run the company, and the people that work at the company…It really is like a second family and it all started with Barbara and Zach. They made you feel like they appreciated you and that you were part of this bigger thing, and so, that kinda kept me going through the waiting tables and all that kinda stuff. The management was also always really good and communicated well and I was- I mean, you make good money too (laughs)! So when the opportunity to keep moving up and to become a manager came around, I didn’t jump at it at first, but then I thought…I’ve been with this company, and I think it was after four years, I finally accepted the management position and could see myself keep movin’ and BOOM (both laugh)! So it’s all about the people. I’m still enjoying everybody that I work with, everybody that works here. 

R: We’ve gotten that before, its come up in other spotlights, that [Zachary’s] is like a second family, and it’s people oriented, and I agree 100%. So when Barbara and Zach decided they were going to retire and were considering what they were going to do with this company that’s super successful, how did it make you feel when you found out they’d decided to give it to the employees rather than do a public sale?

A: Hmm, that’s a tough one.

R: Were you surprised that they were going to do that?

A: For sure! 

R: Were you a little anxious, like, “What does that actually mean?”

A: Yes! Totally! “What does that really mean?” Like, what, I’m gonna have to start really paying attention to things (both laugh), because I’m an owner, you know? I can’t just come to work? But then learning about it…First it was sad. Barbara and Zach were going to retire, they’re the founders, they are the backbone. So it was a little like, oh man, what are we gonna do?! But learning about it, and seeing how there was still going to be a structure and having confidence in the leaders of the company at that time, it was intriguing and then it became exciting. Then each year receiving your [ESOP: Employee Stock Ownership Program] statement it became even more exciting cuz you’re like, “Wow, ok!” It felt, I felt a little bit like an adult (both laugh) because I was saving for retirement. It definitely got its claws in me and kept me. 

R: Absolutely. So, being able to take over a successful business, doing something that’s not very common, especially at that time- you don’t see a lot of Employee Stock Ownership Programs in general- did you feel the pressure to really make sure that we maintained the legacy of Zachary’s? What [Zachary’s] is about and to make sure we continued to be that great? Did you feel that pressure? 

A: Oh for sure, for sure I did. I think because, I mean, for me, because I did work with Barbara and Zach and I knew the core values that they brought and instilled in everybody that worked for them, and how much hard work they put into building the company. I felt it my duty, my honor, to continue that, for sure. And I think back on all the different people that I’ve worked with and how they made my experience here at Zachary’s, and [they] made Zachary’s, so to continue that…I, it’s like I have to, that’s my destiny! Because [Zachary’s] is so great, if we continue to keep it great than the people that we bring on to work for us…they’ll see how great it is and they’ll want to do the same, to put in that effort, to make it their honor to make it great. So for SURE I felt it (laughs). Still do (both laugh).

R: I know, I agree, I feel it too. So almost 22 years…I assume you have stories in that time?

A: Oh my goodness, yes!

R: Can you share one of your more memorable stories? Funny, stressful, both; sometimes they become funny years after they were stressful (both laugh) Any characters…

A: Yeah, characters. The first thing that pops into my head of a character I worked with was Lae Charles. Back in the day there were only two people, two hosts, that worked at Solano during the daytime. So it was just me and Lae Charles, dishing out slices, yada yada, and- I mean, this isn’t gonna make sense cuz not everyone knows this person, but we worked with this other guy, Patrick. Patrick had this hairdo where in the front it kinda stuck up. Ok, so…I was in the back restocking something, and I’m passing the oven coming to the front and Lae was like, “Eh, can you go ring up Patrick’s dad up there?” And I was like, “Patrick’s dad? Ok.” So I go to the front and I look at this gentleman and I just started laughing (laughs), and you know, I tried to play it off, like “Oh hey! Let me ring you up! I’m having such a great day!” But it was because the gentleman had the same hairdo as Patrick, but older you know? So something so stupid and so simple, but it was the way [Lae Charles] said it, and, I don’t know, I just laughed so hard. And when Lae came back up [to the counter] he was kinda smiling, and I finished up with the customer and [Lae Charles] was like, “What’s so funny?” And I just said, “Oh my god, I can’t believe you said that right before I came up and helped this guy!” So, I guess it just goes to show how much fun a day shift at Solano, dishing out slices and ringing people up, but the people you work with [can] make it so fun, and he was so funny. I just have a lot of memories like that, where it’s just something little, small, but it lifts you up for the rest of the day, or for the rest of the night, and it makes your simple work of being a host fun and makes your day fun. So it was just stories like that always stick out in my head, like “Oh my god, Lae Charles!” He was such a jokester! 

R: And an iconic voice.

A: Oh my goodness, yes! And just to watch him actually make his way through the dining room on a busy Friday night, I was always so impressed with him. Anyways, that’s the first one that comes to my head! I laughed so hard, that customer must have thought I was crazy.

R: Or just really happy! 

A: Yeah, right? “I love this job!” (Both laugh) I gotta have a better story…no, that’s a good one! It’s the first one that comes to my head. 

R: Do you know what’s [interesting] about when I ask that question? It seems there’s always going to be this iconic story that’s some major thing, but it’s always moments like that. It’s always these very simple, in the moment stories that people tell, about a regular day of engagement. It seems like just an everyday interaction, but it brings so much joy and it stands out so much, that as you said, it’s a testament to how much fun it can be. How [moments] stand out in the day, and uplift you and you think about them years and years after.

A: Yeah! And it was such a simple little joke! Like, “Oh my god, he looks like Patrick!” (Both laugh) And then, alright, and then the little tidbit at the end, cuz I was like, “Is that, was that really Patrick’s dad??” And Lae said, “No!” (Laughs). Silly, Aria.

R: Zachary’s is obviously a Bay Area business, Bay proud. How do you think Zachary’s represents the Bay within our model and what we do? How do you think the essence of the Bay is represented here?

A: Oh. That’s a great question. I think that the casualness of us and…we don’t try to be too much, you know? We’re pretty simple; pizza, salads. We stepped it up a notch with meatballs, and a couple other appetizers at our other locations, but pretty simple. We just do [one thing] and do it well. But also the casualness of dining in, and how we kinda stack people, and you’re so close to the other person and it’s so loud in here, but it’s, it’s just the Bay! It’s kick backed, not really pretentious, or not uppity, not trying to be…it’s just Oakland, it’s the town, it’s not trying to be anything its not. I think mostly just because we started [in Oakland], and this is the home base, that kinda spread to our other locations. Solano is chill, the other locations as well. And I think it’s good that we’re taking that very relaxed yet professional approach to high quality food. I like that. 

R: I agree, I think that’s a great answer. 

A: Thank you.

*Picture was taken pre-Covid in 2019*

R: What is the thing that you’re looking most forward to getting back to within Zachary’s post Covid? 

A: Ahhhh! Ok.

R: And personally too!

A: That’s kinda a tough one because, I mean, what we’re really missing [is] the dine-in aspect of it, but…I’ve kinda enjoyed the more simpleness of just take out, you know? So that’s tough. Maybe just not wearing this mask at work? (Both laugh) But also, I guess this crosses over to personally too, is just socializing; with friends, with family, and having people I know come and dine in. Just seeing them, and being able to attend to them, but also being able to show off what we do here. So I guess I miss that workwise but also in the other half of my life too. Just gathering, with people, with family, not having to be like, oohhh, keep your distance, and…hugging friends when you see them. Yeah so, I’ll be excited to get back to that for sure. 

R: Transitioning from that, what do you like to do when you’re not at work? 

A: Oh! I like to be outside. I like to, I love spending time with my husband and my son. We go for lots of hikes, we go backpacking. I love to play softball, I miss that, a lot actually. I have been on this women’s team for, gosh, I wanna say like six or seven years, and this is the very first time that we haven’t played in an extended period of time. So, I miss my girls. But yeah, just whatever outside. I like to bake actually too. I don’t know if you knew that about me Robin. (Laughs)

R: I did not. Where are my samples?! 

A: I know! (Laughs) Not so much cooking. Which I mean, I do cook, but I definitely like to bake. I like spending time with my sisters, you know there’s four of us, I got three sisters. My brothers are cool too. Spending time with family and friends, and yeah, just getting out there. I love just going out in nature, whether it’s an extended period of time backpacking or camping, or just hiking. That’s what I like to do. Pretty simple. 

R: Thank goodness a lot of those are what you can do right now during Covid. 

A: Yes! There’s more people out there than usual (laughs). 

R: The last thing I want to ask you is very basic, but very important. What is your favorite pizza? 

A: Oh my pizza! Yes! Well, ok, woooo gosh, I’ve worked here for awhile so I’ve tried many combinations. But I have to have two, because you have to have a stuffed and a thin.

R: Totally.

A: You don’t always feel like a stuffed, especially if you eat it as much as I do. So stuffed would definitely have to be Spinach Mushroom, pesto inside, pepperoni- pepperoni on top! Makin’ it crispy! So it’s like reversing the pepperoni and the pesto. I also like that version as a thin crust. NO sauce, rolled thin, spinach mushroom, pepperoni on top, maybe no pesto though. Yeah. I’m gonna go with those two.

R: That sounds good, maybe I’ll order that thin today!

A: I know right? Mouth is watering. 

R: Well, awesome. Thank you so much for sitting down and talking with me Aria.

A: Of course Robin. 

R: It’s been a pleasure.

A: Yes, it has. Thank you. 


January Employee Spotlight: Hans R.

Since 1983, Zachary’s has been making award-winning pizza in the San Francisco Bay Area. When Zachary’s founders, Zach Zachowski and Barbara Gabel decided to retire, they handed the company over to the employees via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). In 2010, Zachary’s became 100% employee owned.

We’re celebrating Assistant Manager Hans for January’s Employee Owner Spotlight! Hans, who originally worked in the front of the house at our San Ramon location, has seen a lot of growth in his time at Zachary’s. Not only has he moved up in the company, but he has also had a son and gotten engaged! Hans loves that work feels like extended family, and we are so lucky to have him be a part of ours.



Name: Hans R.

Hire Date: March 2015

Home Restaurant: San Ramon & Pleasant Hill

Favorite Pizza: Italian Tomato with Chicken and Jalapeños

Favorite Food: Pasta or Carne Asada

Favorite Activities: Time with family, making music and sports

Where you can find his music: Spotify, Soundcloud and other major digital platforms under Hvns



*Hans was originally interviewed in March 2020 by Zachary’s Marketing Manager, Robin Smith. Pictures were taken pre-Covid. Robin met with Hans in January 2021 to update details of his previous interview.

Robin (R): Hi, Hans!

Hans (H): Hi, Robin.

R: Thanks for sitting down with me.

H: Absolutely.

R: So we’re going to start with a couple of basic questions…what is your favorite pizza?

H: My favorite pizza recently changed. It used to be the Barbeque Chicken. It was very easy, add some jalapenos to it, you’re good to go. But now, honestly, I like a little Italian Tomato, put some chicken on there and a little jalapenos. Keep it light, flavorful, that’s all I like.

R: I condone this decision one hundred percent.

[both laugh]

R: What is a favorite food of yours besides pizza?

H: Uh, unfortunately, pizza is a huge staple of my life. It was just one of those things where when I wasn’t working and I was in school it was family time so pizza was always that thing. And when I’m not working here, my son loves pizza, so always having pizza. But if I’m not having pizza you really can’t go wrong with a little pasta or a little carne asada. Yeah, keep it simple.

R: When did you join the Zachary’s team?

H: I started working for Zachary’s about six years ago.

R: What made you, six years ago, decide Zachary’s was a place you wanted to apply?

H: I’ve always had a job, but only kept it for about a year because I couldn’t find anything…after a year you kind of get tired of everything, but with Zachary’s, after applying, loved it immediately, two weeks in. I never got tired of it, there’s always something to do. I found it on Indeed, took a swing at it, got the job, interviewed by Paul and Aisha and then Leandra I guess had the last say. Right when I drove off they gave me the call and bada-bing-bada-boom, history.

R: Six years later!

H: Six years later, here we are.

R: You’re currently an Assistant Manager at our Pleasant Hill and San Ramon locations. When did you make that jump?

H: Yeah, we’ve come up almost on two years of me being Assistant Manager. I made that transition in March of 2019.

R: So, what is one of your favorite aspects of working here?

H: My favorite, well one of my favorite aspects, because there is many, is the work ethic…that goes on behind the scenes. Everyone here, it’s very team-based, so I like that. We come in and we see where we need to pick our strengths up and we can fill it up from there. I like the fact we’re very great about, if [you’re] not good at doing something, we don’t move you on… We like to [train] you to do what you do before you move on to the next thing and that’s really cool about a job because most jobs don’t do that. They kind of take the training wheels off and they kind of send you out there.

R: Sink or swim, right?

H: Exactly…Can I have a backup answer?

R: Sure.

H: The creativeness, I guess. Zachary’s has a lot of creative people, a lot of creative heads here, and if you ask someone [what they do] outside of work they do a bunch of awesome stuff, a lot of artsy stuff….they make things, they do things, it’s weird, it’s become a hub for a lot of creative people.

R: Um, this is the second time this has actually come up in an interview, which is very interesting, but I don’t think it is surprising because I feel like restaurant industries in general attract a lot of creative people…You get one creative person who then tells another creative person, “hey, I’ve found this job and this community of people…” and they tell the next person and they tell the next person and then…

H: It slowly builds up a community of…oh, ok.

R: Exactly, and it’s also personally something I love about it. Um, so I think these questions kind of blended into each other with you saying that, but what is something that keeps you engaged in the day-to-day, that keeps you motivated, wanting to grow and do better?

H: Uh, I guess that does go kind of hand-in-hand, it’s the coming in and knowing that there isn’t, how do I say this, there’s always something to do, there’s always something to learn… so what I love is that it’s very…we’re very vocal, we’re very verbally communicative. [And], I guess the crew does too! And here everyone’s in a good mood, everyone’s in a happy mood, it’s almost like an extended family. So you come in here and you want to do good for your extended family. You come in here and pick up the slack if someone needs help, you jump right in, it doesn’t feel too heavy, it feels nice to be surrounded by people working just as hard as you are.

R: I like that. So, perfect segue, what, in that regard, does employee ownership mean to you? And especially mean to you in your day-to-day?

H: It means growth. It means coming in and plugging yourself in and knowing that if you’re doing 110%, that’s going to carry over. People are going to see that and people are going to see what ESOP means to you and they’re gonna, you know, hopefully it opens up their eyes and they’re going to see that we take it seriously and put a lot into it and then they can do it themselves.

R: What is a favorite Zachary’s memory, funny or otherwise?

H: Every memory is good, every story is good, with its own little taste to it….The happy memory is the fact that I can make memories with the people here. It’s like I said, you guys are my extended family. I love that I can come here and plan to see you guys. I love you guys enough to see you outside of work, basically.

R: Ok, so outside of work, what are some of your interests, hobbies, things that make you Hans?

H: Uh, I enjoy my family time. I enjoy time with my son and my fiancé. I also do a little bit of music which helps me vent, helps me express some stuff that’s inside, so I like to do that. I also like to do physical stuff, so like sports. Anything sports-related, basketball, get a little physically drained as well [laughs].

R: Do you go by a special name when you do music?

H: Well, I go by my name, Hans, but it’s spelled a little bit differently, HVNS.

R: Right. And do you put stuff out for your music?

H: Yeah, I put a lot of stuff out for my music. Mostly the more professional-sounding things go out on Spotify. Soundcloud is another backup one that I put my music on. Anything I tend to put out I put out on major digital platforms and you’ll be able to find it.

R: What is something you love about the Bay Area?

H: It’s got its own vibe. Like you can’t really find the Bay Area friendliness, you know. It’s just a bunch of different societies living together, coexisting. So it’s kind of nice that even though it seems like we’re all separated somehow, we easily break that weird wall and get together and celebrate life…where we can put down our defensive walls and get together as a community…

R: Do you think that translates to Zachary’s and being a Bay business?

H: I want to say so. I mean, especially it being employee-owned, it’s one of those things where we want to set the tone, the experience for people who come from outside of California. Surprisingly, a lot of people come to try out Zachary’s [from outside the Bay], so it’s kind of nice that even [if] they can’t experience the whole Bay Area, we can show a little Bay Area in our Zachary’s. You know, a little love.

R: A little Bay love.

H: A little Bay love with every slice.

R: [laughs] Oh, man, that should be our new hashtag. #Baylovewitheveryslice. Do you have anything you would like to add?

H: Zachary’s is the best job I’ve ever had. I’ve only had a job for about a year because after that I get tired of it, but this is one of those jobs that everyday you come in, everyday is new, even though the agenda may be the same, everyday is different. So, it’s been six years and I’m still growing, I’m still learning stuff. Forgetting stuff [laughs] but still learning stuff.

R: I do feel, you in particular, we’ve seen a lot of growth with you here, given when you were hired, you had a child while you were working here, you got engaged when you were working here, are now expecting your second child while working here…

H: Life progressed outside of me being at Zachary’s. So it’s one of those things, it’s nice to grow with the company. Like, you know, it’s nice to see that my peers are acknowledging my growth. It’s nice to know that. Because, looking back, I don’t think I’ve changed, but some people told me I used to not be the best [laughs]. True story! So it’s nice to know that I grow with you guys and you’re a big part of my family and my family loves you guys and my son and fiancé feel like they’re a part of the family and you guys are very inclusive and I love the fact this job does that.

R: That makes me feel good, too. Thank you for chatting with me Hans!

H: Of course! Now, back to work! [both laugh]


Employee Owner Spotlight: Emily Cernusak

Since 1983, Zachary’s has been making award-winning pizza in the San Francisco Bay Area. When Zachary’s founders, Zach Zachowski and Barbara Gabel decided to retire, they handed the company over to the employees via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). In 2010, Zachary’s became 100% employee owned.

This month’s spotlight, Emily Cernusak, went from Zachary’s customer to Employee Owner after deciding she liked the energy and teamwork of the crew. Though she’s only been here for a little over a year, Emily lights up the dining room with her enthusiasm and exuberance. Though she loves many aspects of Zachary’s (such as the food and being an owner), it’s the people who make her look forward to coming to work every day.



Name: Emily Cernusak

Hire Date: November 2018

Fave Pizza: Spinach and Mushroom with pesto

Fave Food (Other than pizza): A really good taco

Home Restaurant: Oakland, College Avenue

Favorite Activities: Travelling, hiking, backpacking, spending time with friends and family

Favorite Travel Location: Alaska



*Emily was interviewed by Zachary’s Marketing Manager, Robin Smith on February 2, 2020

Robin (R): Hello, Emily! Thanks for sitting down with me!

Emily (E): Hi, Robin! You’re welcome [Both laugh]

R: Let’s go ahead and get started super easy. When did you start at Zachary’s?

E: I started a little over a year ago, in November 2018

R: What brought you to Zachary’s?

E: You know, I had been a customer here for many, many years and when I decided I wanted to have a serving job it was the very first place that popped into my mind. I feel like the energy was just always really positive and upbeat whenever I was [here] as a customer and employees always looked like they were having fun. I loved how I saw them work together as a team and I really wanted to be a part of that, so it was really, you know, my only top choice. I did interview at one other place, but it didn’t hold a candle.

R: Awesome, I like to hear that! What is a favorite aspect of yours of working at Zachary’s and what keeps you engaged in the day-to-day?

E: A favorite aspect of working at Zachary’s, it has to be the people. People are always happy to be here. They know they’re going to get something amazing, you know, a lot of them have been looking forward to it, maybe traveled to get here, and especially if they’re first time Zachary’s customers, it’s so fun to see how excited they are to try it. It’s like, people are generally in a good mood and I love that. And I love helping people have an even better time than they’re already having, so yeah, that’s what I love about it. There was a second part to the question?

R: What keeps you engaged in the day-to-day? Like engaged and interested in the job?

E: Engaged and interested…it’s just finding how I can connect to people– the people that I work with, and how we can support each other. It feels like there’s a bond that grows naturally out of working together as a team, especially if it’s really busy and we’re all, you know, bustling and looking to help all the gears move smoothly so that things get taken care of. I feel that there’s sort of an awareness in me that grows in my capacity to notice what coworkers need in terms of support and what customers need and anticipating needs. And so I think that, that I love the fact that’s growing. In the beginning all I knew how to do was help people at the counter, you know, so that was my awareness, there were like these other things happening, but as I’ve been here longer and my awareness grows, I can be more aware of what’s happening in the whole restaurant and also notice, “oh, hey, they need some help on the floor, I can pop out there, I have a minute,” and support somebody, and that feels really good.

R: I like that. That’s also important, I agree. That’s something that keeps me engaged. So, you just passed a year, which means you’re officially eligible for the ESOP, correct?

E: Correct.

R: So, as a new ESOP member, what does being an Employee Owner mean for you?

E: I think it brings a different level of consideration to so many things about the job, recognizing that the people you work with, you know, we’re all invested in the company doing well and it’s, it’s for the business, but it’s also for us and for each other. And so, I think it carries, you know, just a little more weight in terms of wanting to know things are done right and that we’re conserving where we can and that we’re making the most out of every salad ingredient we have, all the way around.

R: Zero waste.

E: Exactly, zero waste. And, you know, all the different community outreach and recognizing the way word is spreading about Zachary’s as we open new locations. I’ve always felt a part of the team here, but knowing that I am already on my way to being even more invested in the financial success is really exciting.

R: It’s like “how am I going to help this company succeed so I can succeed.” Ok, fun questions, what is a favorite memory you have of Zachary’s/at Zachary’s/about Zachary’s?

E: Let’s see…oh my gosh, there are so many fun memories. This is a fun slash funny memory. I happened to be one of the servers here when there was a rolling power outage and so, it was, you know, in the evening, and all of a sudden the lights went out, the power went out and we had two tables here eating their pizza and one of the tables said, “well we’re here because the power is out at home, so we don’t really mind!” So helping them, in candle light, will always stand out to me.

R: That’s awesome.

E: And they finished eating. And, for a moment it was really overwhelming, to like write down the price of every ingredient they had and add it all up and bring them their check, but also it was really satisfying, like the sense that we’re all a part of this community.

R: I love that. We’re all a part of a community and no one has power.

E: Right, that’s right. [Both laugh]

R: So what are your hobbies or interests or things you like to do when you’re not at Zachary’s?

E: I love to travel. I love road trips. I love hiking and backpacking. Any time I can be out in nature and around trees or the water or the ocean. Spending time with family and friends and all that.

R: What’s one of your favorite places you’ve taken a road trip to or traveled to? Or both?

E: Oh, road trip or travel…well I recently went to Alaska for the first time and that was amazing. I went to see a friend up there and I was just….it was so unexpected in so many ways, the way the mountains just jut right up out of the ocean. Where we are in California, you have to go inland a little to get to the mountains, and there, they just come straight up out of the water. It was just breathtakingly beautiful. And the way the trees…there was just such a different mix of forest, you know, when I’m here and I go up in the mountains, it’s mostly evergreens and there it was all this mix of ferns and deciduous trees and really lush, all along with evergreens that I wasn’t expecting. And seeing moose in the neighbor’s yard was, like, so incredible. And fun. And I just had a feeling of I really know I’m alive here. I feel so energized and awake. It felt great.

R: Connected to the world.

E: Yeah, and just seeing things that are different. The other thing that was amazing was, I was there at the end of August, so there was still a ton of daylight and the flowers were gigantic. In people’s yards, the gardens in downtown Anchorage were these huge overflowing baskets of flowers everywhere…they grow so big because there’s so much daylight! And I never thought about that but it was really, really fun and beautiful.

R: Yeah, I never would have thought about that either…the amount of daylight they get, they have more growth time. Alright, last question that I have for you is, what do you love about the Bay Area?

E: What I love about the Bay Area is such a richness of experiences and people. I feel like there’s a friendliness and sense of community in being in this world altogether. I love meeting people from all over the world who live here or who are travelling here and the way that all those beautiful differences come together and yet there’s just an understanding that we’re all in this together; we’re all a part of this greater whole. And I don’t always get that feeling everywhere I travel, so I feel like it’s something really special about the Bay.

R: I completely agree.

E: There’s a vibrancy, too. I feel like an interest in being creative in different ways and, you know, helping share our music and art with each other, with anyone who wants to listen, basically.

R: I call it, like an openness to creativity. However you can find to be creative, the Bay is going to welcome that creativity, even if it’s some weird off-the-wall way, the Bay is going to be like, “oh, we’ll take it, bring it…”

E: “Show us! More! Bring it on!”

R: Do you have anything you’d like to add on?

E: Um, I really do just want to say, I have been a part of so many different organizations and companies, you know, through different school settings and work settings and I feel like there’s something really special about Zachary’s…about the way that things are run and, you know, maybe this just touches on the earlier question of being an Employee Owner as well, but there’s such a care and attention to helping everybody know that we’re all here to support you in succeeding. Like every new person gets that feeling. And it’s like, having, whether it’s two or five or 15 people who’ve got your back, whatever you’re doing, we all have each other’s back, like that just makes a really big difference in my day and there has literally not been a day when I’ve felt like “oh, I don’t want to go to work.”  I love coming here. All the time.

R: That makes me so happy! Awesome! Well thank you so much! I got a little warm spot in my heart.

E: Awwwww [Both laugh]

R: Thank you so much for chatting with me!



Since 1983, Zachary’s has been making award-winning pizza in the San Francisco Bay Area. When Zachary’s founders, Zach Zachowski and Barbara Gabel decided to retire, they handed the company over to the employees via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). In 2010, Zachary’s became 100% employee owned.

Our employee owners are the mojo behind the madness. They make each of our restaurants unique, fun, and delicious.  You may recognize our latest spotlight as one of our Oaklandish t-shirt models, but usually Edwin Jimenez’s friendly smile can be found in the kitchens of San Ramon. After almost a decade with Zachary’s, Edwin has recently been promoted to kitchen supervisor, a position that reflects his dedication to great pizza and the amazing people that make Zachary’s—and the Bay—home.


Name: Edwin Jimenez

Hire Date: September 2010

Fave Pizza: Spinach and Mushroom

Fave Food: Pupusas and Tacos!

Current Location: Hayward

Home Restaurant: San Ramon

Zachary’s Claim to Fame: Edwin is known for his stellar reliability and sense of teamwork. He understands our success is based on the team, not the individual. He is a true team player in this regard, helping guide and direct our crew to be the best they can. His deep respect for his coworkers and the pride he takes in making perfect pizzas, make Edwin an all around employee-owner superstar!



*Edwin was interviewed by Zachary’s Marketing Manager, Robin Smith

Robin (R): What attracted you to Zachary’s Pizza or made you choose to work here?

Edwin (E): To be honest, before Zachary’s I started working at another [pizza] restaurant because I love pizza and I had the chance to work over there.  But then Alvaro (a fellow San Ramon kitchen employee-owner) talked to me about [Zachary’s] and the opportunity, I didn’t think twice. I came for the pizza but I stayed because I really liked the environment and the people. That’s why I stay. I came for pizza. [Both laugh]

R: The draw was the pizza

E: Yes.

R: What is one of your favorite aspects about working at Zachary’s?

E: It’s funny that you mention it, but I like the reaction of people when I say, “I work at Zachary’s.” A lot of people [say], “oh, really?” That’s very genuine that people react in a really good way that I work at Zachary’s because they’ve heard a lot of good things about the restaurant- the food, the pizza is awesome. So I like that reaction.

R: They’re excited.

E: Yeah, excited. And the funny thing is they start talking about experiences that they’ve had or things that they’ve heard about this place or the pizza or about all the awards, you know, and that’s good, that’s amazing. I like that.

R: It makes you feel good.

E: It makes you feel proud.

R: So spinning on that feeling of pride, what does being an Employee Owner mean to you?

E: It makes me feel more engaged with my job. It’s more responsibility because I’m not just working for someone. I’m working for this place that cares about me…everything I do I have to do with quality and excellence because they do care a lot about me and I care about this restaurant too.

R: Besides being an employee owned company, what are some of the things that make you feel that engagement and keeps you motivated to accept a supervisor position, like you recently did?

E: The reason why is because I felt like, for so many years, I received a lot from this restaurant and this company and I feel like it was time for me to give something back.  To step up and do a little more than what I was doing, like taking another level…Like saying, thank you so much for everything you have done for me…I am going to do something for you guys. I’m going to do my best, help the new guys, if something needs to be fixed, let’s do it, I’m going to help, I’m going to do more.

R: What’s something you love about living in the Bay Area?

E: To be honest I always talk about that with people that come and visit the area and the first thing they say is that they love the area. That they’ve been in…different places around the world, some of my friends that have come to visit and they’ve said this is the best place to live. And to be honest, I love a lot of things about this area. First of all, I love the weather. The weather is perfect. And the fact that you can go to the city, the mountains, to the snow, everything you want to do, everywhere you want to go, it’s a plus. The location is perfect. The weather is perfect. And then the third thing that I love about this area is the people. To be honest the people. They make me feel like I’m welcome here. I feel like I’ve never been treated in a bad way, or seen in a bad way, and I really like that. I really appreciate the people make me feel like I’m welcome here.

R: Absolutely. That’s important. You need to feel welcome where you live. When people come and visit, what are some of the things that you show off to them?

E: The lifestyle here, it’s pretty good. You can go either shopping or you can go visiting museums. The Academy of Sciences in San Francisco is really good. The views. The views are amazing. Places like the Golden Gate, Santa Cruz, things like that. The view that you get when you drive on the Highway 1.  All those things make this place very special and I like to show that to the people that come and visit. What else?  The food. There’s a lot of good places you can go and dine in and have a good time.

R: Speaking of food, what’s your favorite Zachary’s pizza?

E: I gotta say, the OG, it has to be the Spinach and Mushroom. Yeah, that’s the best.

R: I mean, you can’t go wrong…

E: Yes, that is the best one.

R: I agree.

E: And I like how spinach and mushroom complement each other. They create another, totally different flavor. Yes, so that’s my favorite.

R: Hand’s down. [Laughs] Do you have anything else you’d like to talk about or add about your experience at Zachary’s? Besides being the model for the Zachary’s t-shirt? [Both laugh]

E:  The only thing that I would say is that I learn so many things here. I learn that this place…gives me the chance to grow up. Not just as an employee, but as a person. And I have the chance to meet a lot of beautiful people here and I’m happy with that. And I’m thankful because I feel like this place attracts a lot of beautiful people and they help me in different ways…some with their friendship, some with advice, but all to be the person I am.  I really enjoy it because, to be honest, I’ve been spending a lot of time here. It’s going to be almost a decade now, and I’m thankful because it’s not everywhere you have a chance to meet people…It’s good. I’m happy with that and I’m thankful for that.



Since 1983, Zachary’s has been making award-winning pizza in the San Francisco Bay Area. When Zachary’s founders, Zach Zachowski and Barbara Gabel, decided to retire, they sold the company to the employees via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). In 2010, Zachary’s became 100% employee owned.

Our employee owners are the mojo behind the madness. They make each of our restaurants unique, fun, and delicious. This month, we are turning our attention to Antonio and Adanely Beltran, a father/daughter duo who both work at our San Ramon location!


**Antonio and Adanely were interviewed on March, 12th 2018 by Zachary’s Project Manager, Christina Souza. All photos are take by Zachary’s Regional Manager, Kate Erickson

Christina (C): What are your hire dates?

Antonio (AN): September 27th, 2006

Adanely (AD): For me, I don’t know the exact date, but I think it was June 2015.

C: Okay, so you (Antonio) had already been here for nine and a half years before Adanely started?

AN: [Shakes head yes]

C: What’s your favorite pizza?

AN: Hawaiian with bacon and jalapenos, thin crust

C: [To Adanely] You?

AD: Whatever he makes! [Looks at AntonioLaughs]

C: Do you make Adanely special pizzas?

AN: Yes, sometimes… Chicken, ranch, cheese, tomatoes, onions

C: Sounds delicious.

AN: Oh yes.

AD: And he adds some spices that he brings from home.

C: Oh! What are the spices? Or, is it your secret recipe?

AN: Yes, secret recipe.


AN: I just do chicken, mixed cheese (Monterey Jack and cheddar), tomatoes on top, and green onions

AD: Red onions!

AN: Red onions, and ranch… [Makes motion of swirling the ranch on top of the pizza]

C: Sound good. And where are you both living right now? What city?

AD and AN: Tracy

C: Do you live together?

AD: Yeah

C: Great. [To Antonio] How did you discover Zachary’s?

AN: My friend. We were working together in another job and he told me. He told me they needed a lot of people. You know when this (San Ramon) opened, we needed a lot of people. I talked to Kevin (Kevin Suto is Zachary’s President and CFO). He gave me the job.

C: He interviewed you? Do you remember what he asked you?

AN: Oh my gosh… He asked me, “Where do you work?” “Do you work in a restaurant?” He asked me, “Have you made pizzas?” I said, “Never!” He said, “Do you know the (ingredients) pepperoni, pineapple, cheese, and salami?” He said, “It’s okay. You got the job!” And I started. On the same day.

C: You started on the same day that he interviewed you?

AN: Yes! There were too many people!

C: Oh, that’s right. It was crazy when San Ramon opened.

AN: Yeah… crazy. There were too many people! Crazy… Almost twelve years ago…

C: Did you start right when we opened?

AN: Two weeks after.

C: What was it like?

AN: [Makes huge eyes]  Very hard! Crazy! You know, I had never made pizzas. This was my first time, so it was very hard for me. The pan pizzas… my hands hurt. Oh my God… it was painful. Too many nights… In the night time, for a month, I had a lot of pain. [Motions to his hands aching].

C: Now your hands are probably really strong.

AN: Yeah! Look at that! [Motions to his arms]

AD: Look at his arm muscles right here! [Points to Antonio’s forearm]

C: That’s pretty cool! Why did you think that this would be a good job for Adanely?

AN: Because of professionalism, the environment, there was no bullying. And there was a lot of respect between people. Especially compared to other places, it’s very respectful among coworkers. Also because we were going to be working together. I had been working a lot of years for a long time and I was away from home. I liked the fact that we were going to be together, working.

C: What is working together like?

AD: It’s fun. Uh, he helped me a lot when I first started. He told me what to do and guided me on the right track. We get to spend our breaks together sometimes, so he makes me food. Like he said, we didn’t get to spend a lot of time with him when he was working both of his jobs. Here and his other other job. So, we were spending more time together.

C: Do you have other siblings?

AD: Yes

C: How many?

AD: I have a younger sister. Right now she’s 16. And then I have a brother who is 19.

C: [To Antonio] Would you want to work with them too?

AN: Are you kidding? Yeah, why not? Yeah, she (the younger sister) started another job as a busser. Two days, Saturday and Sunday…

AN: I would like her to work here. I would like it. I want to say thank you. I am very thankful for the opportunity that Zachary’s gave us. We are growing and learning every day. I am thankful for our future. And you are giving her [Glances at Adanely] an opportunity to grow.

C: Is there anything that is challenging about working together?

AN: Ah no. We are in different positions so we if we do something wrong, we have to take responsibility for it.

AD: Yes, like he takes his responsibility, I take mine. We’ve never had a moment.

C: It seems really cool to spend a lot of time together, but then if there were any conflict or drama outside of work, I can imagine, for me, that would carry over.

AD: Yeah, but we don’t. We don’t.

C: Do you talk about work when you are at home?

AN: Sometimes.

AD: Not really.

AN: We try not to.

C: You keep it separate?

AD: Yeah.

C: (To Antonio) What is your favorite thing about working at Zachary’s and/or working with Adanely?

AN: Everything for me. I like everything. That’s why I’ve been here for so many years. A lot of places have people for only two or three years and then they move on.  There are a lot of things… the managers, the people, it’s very different (than other restaurants). And the money! [Laughter]

C: You gotta make the money!

AN: Yeah, I know! [Laughter]

C: [To Adanely] What’s your favorite thing about working here?

AD: It’s very team oriented. So, if you are having trouble with something, especially serving, there is someone right there to help you all the time. We try to make it as least stressful as possible. Helping your coworkers out too… You help them and they help you. Um… everybody gets along. The managers are pretty cool. [Laughter] I talk to everybody, even in the kitchen. It’s just very friendly.

C: Do you all cook at home together?

AD: He cooks. [Laughter]

C: Do you (Antonio) do most of the cooking?

AN: [Shakes head] Yeah, yeah

C: What are your favorite things to make?

AD: He cooks everything!

AN: Yeah, everything… pasta… Well, I don’t make pizzas! [Laughter] Pasta and steaks, chicken… oh my God.

AD: I think steaks is what he makes the most.

C: [To Adanely] What is your favorite thing that he makes? Other than that pizza?

AN: Steaks, shrimp, your vegetables, mashed potatoes…

AD: Yeah, that’s my favorite thing.

AN: Oh yes.

AD: Everything that he makes is so good. It’s delicious.

AN: Pastas…

AD: We always have friends over and they are like, “Oh yum.”

C: Your house is a gathering space for people?

AD: Oh yeah.

C: Because you are producing all of that delicious food!

AN: In my morning job, you just have to learn everything in a week or two. They just throw you in there and you have to figure it out and deal with it. You have to do what you can. You have customers in front of you and you just have to figure it out. But here there is a process. You have two or three months and then you have to know.

C: What do you all do for fun outside of Zachary’s?

AN: For fun? [Laughter] When we take vacations, we try to go places. To Magic Mountain and Las Vegas! But the days that we have off, we have dinner at home and try to get together. We always try to eat together.

C: With your whole family?

AD and AN: Yeah…

C: If you could have your ideal work situation, would you keep working together? Do you see yourselves not working together in the future? If you could dream it, what would it be?

AN: We don’t know because Adanely is in school.

AD: Yeah, I’m in school and I have a career in mind, so we don’t know. But it would be nice to work together all the time.

C: Really?

AD: Yeah. We just have a good time together. We never argue. But, he’s going to stay here until who knows… but I’m going to school, so I don’t know what the future is.

C: What are you going to school for?

AD: For nursing.

C: What kind of nursing do you want to do?

AD: Labor and delivery

C: Fun. [To Antonio] So you are not interested in nursing?


C: Great. I think that’s all of my questions. Do you want to say anything else about working together? Or working at Zachary’s?

AN: I am very thankful because these past eight years, we were in a very difficult situation together. But this job keeps us together.

C: I think it’s really unique and special that you want to work together and that you are able to make it work with your schedules and all of the other stuff going on in your lives. It’s really special that you can enjoy the time that you have working together. It’s really sweet.

AN: Thank you, thank you. And many thanks to Kevin and Leandra (Leandra is Zachary’s Vice President and General Manager).

C: What was Kevin like in 2006?

AN: Kevin?

C: Was he different?

AN: No, he was the same. He is always a friendly person. He always says hi. A lot of people get nervous around him, but I think he is a friendly guy. I think because we are the same age, it’s a different type of vibe.

C: You can relate to each other.

AD: Yeah

AN: And I’m thankful that he gave me this job.

C: Do you have any pictures of yourselves when you were younger cooking together?

AD: Cooking? Uh…

AN: [Laughs] Cooking? Uhhh

AD: My mom took pictures of him cooking… but not us together. I don’t know. I’ll see.  She’s gonna be like… she never cooks.

C: [To Adanely] You never cook?

AD: No, he always cooks. Laughs.

AN: [Laughs]

C: What do you do when he is not there?

AD: I’m always working. We’re always working. Or my Mom cooks. I never cook.

AN: [Laughs]

C: What are you going to do if you’re living along?

AD: I’ll just take him with me.

C: Awww, that’s pretty sweet that she wants to take you with her wherever she goes.

AN: When she gets married, she will learn. [Laughs]


Since 1983, Zachary’s has been making award-winning pizza in the San Francisco Bay Area. When Zachary’s founders, Zach Zachowski and Barbara Gabel decided to retire, they sold the company to the employees via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). In 2010, Zachary’s became 100% employee owned.

Our employee owners are the mojo behind the madness. They make each of our restaurants unique, fun, and delicious. In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (March 8th!) we are turning our employee owner spotlight on TSERING SANGMO, the first woman to work in a Zachary’s kitchen!


Photo Cred: Regional Manager Kate Erickson

Name: Tsering Sangmo

Hire Date: 11/29/93

Fave Pizza: Spinach and Mushroom with chicken

Current Location: El Cerrito

Favorite Hiking Spot: Wildcat Canyon – It’s in her backyard!

Zachary’s Claim to Fame: Tsering is the first woman to work in a Zachary’s kitchen and was the ONLY woman to work in a Zachary’s kitchen for 6 and half years!


**Tsering was interviewed on March, 5th 2018 by Zachary’s Project Manager, Christina Souza.

Christina: How did you discover Zachary’s?

Tsering: One of my friends was helping me.  I came here as a part of a resettlement project (Tibetan Resettlement Project of 1993). There was a guy who was helping us to find a job… He gave me the phone number of Zachary’s and I called. And I got the interview.

Christina: Who did you interview with?

Osvi and Tsering in the mid 1990’s

Tsering: The General Manager. He interviewed me at Solano. He asked me a couple of questions. He said, “Have you ever worked in a restaurant?” and I said “No” and then he said, “Have you ever done dishes?” and I said “No” [Laughs]. And he said, “Do you think you can work in a kitchen with all those guys?” and I said “Yeah, I can work. I can try. I’ll do my best.” He said, “Okay, you can come work tomorrow.”

Christina: Tomorrow???

Tsering: Yeah. So, that’s how I started at Zachary’s. [Laughter]

Christina: What was the resettlement project?

Tsering: The USA brought 1,000 Tibetan people over. They did it as a lottery, so I was one of the 1,000.

Christina: Did that happen every year?

Tsering: No, that happened one time.

Christina: Were there a lot of more than 1,000 people who wanted to be in the lottery?

Tsering: Yeah, a lot of people applied, but they used a lottery. Thinley and Lodoy (two other current Zachary’s employee owners) were both in the lottery too.

Christina: Did a lot of people come to the Bay Area from Tibet or did they go all over the United States?

Tsering: All over the United States

Christina: So, we just got lucky that you landed here?

Tsering: [Laughs] Yeah.

Christina: When your interviewer asked if you thought you could work in the kitchen with “all those guys” how did that feel?

Photo Cred: Regional Manager Kate Erickson

Tsering: I felt nervous. I’m the only woman with all guys! And my English was not that good. I understood (what people were saying), but speaking was a problem because we don’t speak English in India. We went to school, but it was not that good, so my English is not that good. And I was nervous! But I heard that there were two other Tibetans working, Thinley and Lodoy, so I said, okay, I’ll try. If I cannot do it, I’ll just quit. And it worked out. I’m still here.

Christina: What was it like on your first day?

Tsering: I was confident. It was okay. I thought I was going to be so nervous, but it was okay. It was not that bad. It was like housework, like dishes.

Christina: What did you think about Zachary’s when you first started?

Tsering: I liked it. The first thing I did, I came in and I was like, “This is my right place.” I felt so comfortable. I don’t know. Sometimes it just happens, right? Where you feel very easy going and comfortable? Some places you don’t like, but at Zachary’s, I felt like this was the right place to work. People were so nice. Everybody was nice to me.

Christina: How has your experience changed since you started?

Tsering: I don’t think there is a lot that is different. For me, it’s really the same. I mean, I was doing dishes for six or seven years. At that time, we didn’t hire that much so we stayed on the dishes for a long time. And I wanted to stay on the dishes because it was easier than the kitchen. I am so nervous when I do new stuff! I get nervous, so I just didn’t want to go in the kitchen. I wanted to stay on the dishes. And then they hired new people and they took me to the kitchen and I was a little nervous, but it went well. [Laughs] I was like, “Why did I get nervous? This is easy.”

Christina: How long did it take you to feel comfortable in the kitchen?

Tsering: Five or six months. You have to learn every single thing. We don’t use all of those ingredients in India. I had to learn everything from studying.

Christina: What are the ingredients here that you wouldn’t have seen in India?

Tsering: Um, most of the meats. For me, I don’t eat pork, so I didn’t know any of the pork meats – salami, pepperoni and stuff.

Christina: When you were working in 1993, did you think about being the only woman in the kitchen? Did it feel different to you?

Tsering: I didn’t even think about it. I just thought, I can do it like the guys.

Christina: Did you get any grief from people? Did people treat you differently?

Tsering: No. Because I worked hard. [Laughs]

Photo Cred: Kate Erickson

Christina: So, you don’t think Zachary’s has changed in the last 25 years?

Tsering: No, it’s not much different. Some of the menu items have changed. The people have changed, especially the dining room. The kitchen is most of the same people. Maybe that’s why I don’t feel change. I worked with the same people for 25 years.

Christina: What’s that like?

Tsering: It feels like family now. I see my coworkers more than my family. Because they go to work and school, I see them for two or three hours, but here I see people for seven or eight hours, five days a week. They feel more like family than coworkers. [Laughs]

Christina: What do you like the most about your job?

Photo Cred: Kate Erickson

Tsering: I like to train people. If they listen, I train them. If they are showing me some attitude, I say, “Okay, if you don’t like it, then I’m not gonna bother you.” If they listen, I give them 100%. I show them how to make the pizza, the right way, and how to put the right amount of ingredients on the pizza. All the stuff. I give 100% to Zachary’s. I do my best. Before, it was Zach and Barbara. Now it’s our company. For me, it’s the same. Before it was Zach and Barbara; I had to work and they paid me. Now it’s for me. It’s like the same. So, I give 100% to Zachary’s… as much as I can.