LINCOLN, Neb. -- Zena Weiler, who co-founded the 50-store Valentino's Grand Italian Buffet chain with her husband, Valentine, died on March 16 following two years of failing health. She was 87.

According to the Lincoln Journal Star, the couple opened their first store in 1957 with a prayer and a $500 loan. Its first menu was printed on a piece of lined notebook paper, and a small pizza sold for 75 cents.

Daughter Martha Shinkle said her parents' corner market was going under when they decided to try their hand at pizza.

"They were just looking to survive, and they were lucky," Shinkle said.

In 1971, the Weilers sold their restaurant to Tony and Ron Messineo who grew it into a multi-million dollar business with 50 locations across the Midwest.

"Zena was intuitively a great businessperson who always had a sense of what the customer wanted," said Tony Messineo, company president.

Valentino's still makes its pizza dough and many sauces with the old Weiler recipes.

"Just three or four years ago, we called Zena for her thoughts on a couple of recipes," Messineo said.

She is survived by two daughters, four grandchildren and one great-grandson.

Related Content

User Comments – Give us your opinion!
Products & Services

Pizza POS Software

http://global.networldalliance.com/new/images/products/5937.png

5937/Pizza-POS-Software

Digital Menu Boards

http://global.networldalliance.com/new/images/products/6681.png

6681/Digital-Menu-Boards

Enterprise Reporting & Management

http://global.networldalliance.com/new/images/products/6813.png

6813/Enterprise-Reporting-Management

Standard coffee

http://global.networldalliance.com/new/images/products/6963.png

6963/Standard-coffee

Facebook Ordering

http://global.networldalliance.com/new/images/products/5935.png

5935/Facebook-Ordering

POS health test: do a quick check

http://global.networldalliance.com/new/images/products/1288.png

1288/POS-health-test-do-a-quick-check

Enterprise Solutions

http://global.networldalliance.com/new/images/products/4124.png

4124/Enterprise-Solutions

Free Menu Board Media Player Promotion

http://global.networldalliance.com/new/images/products/6675.png

6675/Free-Menu-Board-Media-Player-Promotion

Restaurant Digital Signage Advertising Network

http://global.networldalliance.com/new/images/products/6691.png

6691/Restaurant-Digital-Signage-Advertising-Network

Luzianne iced tea

http://global.networldalliance.com/new/images/products/6957.png

6957/Luzianne-iced-tea

Digital Menu Boards and ROI
Request Information From Suppliers
Save time looking for suppliers. Complete this form to submit a Request for Information to our entire network of partners.