It’s been 30 years since Lucky and Manjit Singh moved to the United States from India.
In that time, they’ve had two children, owned a convenience store and, more recently, moved from the Bay Area to Santa Clarita.
Now, three decades later, they’ve finally accomplished their dream of owning a restaurant, as they celebrate the opening of their Pizza Guys franchise here in Santa Clarita.
“I finished high school, I got married and I came (to America) when I was 18,” Manjit Singh said. “I was speaking English, but I was not confident, because English here is a little bit different than in India.”
Still, Manjit moved across the world to join Lucky, who had arrived before her, as the couple searched for a good future for their growing family.
Manjit was pregnant with their daughter, Sonia, when she arrived. She spent a long time as a housewife, caring for Sonia and their son Shawn, who soon followed.
“We moved here in 2016 from San Francisco to L.A. because my kids go to college here, and they wanted us to move,” Manjit said. “Until then, my husband had wanted to open his own Indian restaurant because when he first got here, he was the head chef at an Indian restaurant.”
Even so, when a family friend who owned a couple Pizza Guys franchises introduced them to the company, the couple decided to switch gears.
“Every time we went there, we really liked the pizza,” Manjit added. “It’s gourmet pizza, so the pizza quality and food is very good, and everything was delicious.”
With the help of Shawn, Sonia and son-in-law Tag, the family quickly got to work searching for the perfect location to put Santa Clarita’s first Pizza Guys.
“I’m a very picky person and I just want to make sure we had a good location,” Manjit said, adding that they settled on a corner store in Bouquet Canyon Plaza. “It has good visibility on the street level because traffic is very heavy in that area on the road side, plus it used to be a Starbucks location, and Starbucks always finds the best locations.”
That was more than a year ago. Then they, like many other business owners, were stalled when the coronavirus pandemic hit in March.
“It was really hard, but thankfully my son is very involved,” Manjit said.
With everything closed, Shawn took to email to ensure the restaurant continued to receive the permits necessary to move forward with construction.
“We could not go to the city and apply for a permit, and there’s so many permits needed for the construction,” Manjit added. “So if we were not doing that, we would not be open yet because everything was closed down.”
The restaurant was supposed to open in May, but instead settled on opening as soon as construction was finished, which finally happened in the first week of July.
It was because of that delay that once they finally opened their doors July 15, they were flooded with customers, many of whom had been eager to try the new restaurant.
“This business is brand new for us, we’re not from the food industry,” Manjit said. “My crew is pretty brand new and we are brand new. We’re still learning and the crew’s learning, so everybody was anxious the first day.”
When the phone kept ringing, Manjit admitted she panicked.
“I started crying and I called corporate and I told them I can’t handle it anymore,” she said, adding that they suggested they close early.
“That’s an experience I’m never going to forget, and I’m happy that I had that experience — because I learned from that — and, every day we’re learning.”
While the restaurant has stayed busy in the two weeks since it opened, the Singh family has worked hard to learn the ropes.
“We didn’t even sleep for like two weeks,” Manjit added, chuckling. “We’d go home, we’d come back.”
And it appears that hard work has paid off, as the store has received accolades since its opening.
“We are blessed,” Manjit said. “This is the 70th Pizza Guys’ store, and we are the first one to open and break all of the records with the Yelp reviews, sales, everything.”
Since then, the restaurant has remained very busy, and Manjit is happy to report she’s already had a few repeat customers in the first couple of weeks, along with many customers eager to support a small business that’s family owned and operated.
“We are happy that everything is going smoothly, and that we are here running our own business,” Manjit added. “We have a good team. My crew is very, very supportive and fast learners. I’m happy to have all of them, and I’m proud that I own a Pizza Guys.”
Pizza Guys is located at 27667 Bouquet Canyon Road.