Like many teens, Jenny Baughman simply wanted a job. But finding one wasn't so easy.
"Nobody in Canal Winchester would hire a 15-year-old, but I just went in, and he hired me," she said.
"He" was the late Paul "P.J." Romanowski, who founded Roman's, the oldest pizza shop in town and gave Baughman, now 43, her first job. Little did she know then that she would be carrying on the tradition of Roman's Pizza, which recently was remodeled to become more of a sports bar with more dining space, a menu that includes beer, wine and liquor, and TVs to show sporting events.
"It would be great if he was here to see the transformation -- where it went from this little pizza shop," Baughman said. "He would say, 'Wow, look at this place.' "
The recently completed expansion at 17 N. High St. in Canal Winchester is the first for the business, which has its roots in Lancaster. It was there that Romanowski bought Cato's Pizza at Sixth Avenue and Columbus Street in 1978 and named his restaurant Roman's Pizza Super Sub Shoppe.
Romanowski didn't start with much, according to Baughman. He had his cousin's recipes, some used equipment, Tupperware and utensils from his house. Soon, his business began to grow.
In 1980, the shop moved to Canal Winchester, where Baughman worked for four years until she moved to Florida. When she returned to central Ohio to finish her finance degree at Ohio State, Romanowski asked her to work on weekends.
Baughman agreed, and she received another request from Romanowski in 2005. Comfortable that she would carry on the traditions he started, Romanowski asked her to buy the business.
"At first, I turned him down," Baughman said. "I had just bought a home and was in the middle of remodeling it. I wanted to flip houses. But at the end of 2005, the housing market had changed. It was a great time to buy, but not sell."
Baughman agreed to meet with Romanowski, again, and this time decided she would take him up on his offer. But before she would assume ownership of the business, she said, Romanowski wanted her to understand there would be hard work to achieve success.
Every day, Baughman would come in early to learn how to make pizza dough and sauce, slice meats and cut fresh produce -- without pay.
"He was real big on never cutting corners," Baughman said. "He told me to never buy cheap quality food to make a profit. To this very day, I do the same. He wanted me to make sure I knew how much hard work you have to put in to owning your own business.
"He made me promise that I would carry on the same tradition he started. I didn't change anything."
Baughman took over the business on Feb. 12, 2006, and hasn't deviated from Romanowski's traditions. Over the years, she has added items to the menu, such as wings, and began accepting credit cards and stopped taking checks. She also added specials and coupons.
But the traditions are what keep customers coming back.
Bill Eichenlaub has been eating Roman's pizzas since the early 1980s. He said he got to know the original owner and used to sit and talk with Romanowski when he'd pick up a pie.
"It's not a production-made pizza, it's kind of a pasta pie," Eichenlaub said. "She hasn't strayed too far from the original. When it comes to the meatball subs, they're always fresh, with hand-packed meatballs. I think the previous owner would be pleased with what she's done with the business."
"We take the time to know our customers and their families and address them by name," Baughman said. "We take time to talk to them and get to know them."