In 1954, Franco Pignataro had the good fortune to meet and fall in love with a beautiful lady from Acitrezza, Sicily. This caused a wonderful series of events that led to the founding of Franco's Real Italian Restaurant. The beautiful lady, Domenica, decided that she preferred the dashing Carabinieri over her Royal suitors and declared he would be her husband. Franco and Domenica were married one month after meeting in one of Sicily's most famous churches. Shortly thereafter, the couple made the long journey to the United States in pursuit of the great American Dream.
Initially, Franco worked for Domenica's family in their shrimping business located in Galveston, TX. Sea sickness short circuited this career move by Franco and led to some serious decisions. Franco was challenged by his lack of experience with English and this helped him make his next career move. He decided to raise chickens and sell eggs, because chickens understood Italian! At least that is what Franco claimed. Starting with a small group of hens, Franco ultimately grew the business and owned over 500,000 laying hens, becoming one of the major providers of fresh eggs in the Houston Area. By the time he had accomplished this, he and Domenica had also grown their family. The addition of three beautiful daughters, Nuccia, Lina, and Franca to Domenica and the half million chickens made Franco the only "rooster" in the Pignataro family.
In another fortunate move, Franco read of a new restaurant on the north side of Houston serving a delicacy he remembered from Sicily, pizza pies. Franco loaded up his family and made the hour long drive to the new business only to be disappointed in finding the pizzas were frozen and nothing at all like he had hoped. It wasn't long before Franco decided that if Houstonians would flock to a restaurant serving frozen pizzas, that they would surely enjoy a restaurant serving the "real" thing. He found a small restaurant for sale near NASA, and in 1971, opened Franco's Real Italian Restaurant.
It was an instant hit in the area, Franco routinely baked, and served hundreds of pizzas daily. The restaurant grew from there and was followed by additional restaurants in Houston, Santa Fe, and Galveston.
Today, Franco's tradition lives on with his youngest daughter, Franca. The original restaurant was renamed Franca's in 1998, and is now run by Franca. Franca grew up at Franco's side, and has been a fixture of the restaurant since she was 3 years old. At the age of 5, Franca was featured on television flying pizzas. At the age of 7, she was trying to fire employees that didn't do things the way Franco wanted. Now, every night Franca is greeting customers, making sure all meals are just right, helping in the kitchen if needed, and in general, working to make everyone's experience at Franca's memorable.