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Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Defying the odds with Pedro Martinez

Dillon Laurer
Pedro Martinez showing off his great creation of pizza.

“Once you have a goal, you need to work hard to achieve it,” said Pedro Martinez, 42, owner of Pizza USA in Bellflower California. Martinez didn’t have an easy road to becoming the owner of Pizza USA and he had to achieve it by working hard and persevering through tough times.

Martinez didn’t know what to expect when he came to America let alone owning his own business. Hard work, determination, and perseverance was all he knew how to do and that is what he has instilled on everyone around him.

Martinez was born in Oaxaca, Mexico where he said that times were tough growing up, “We didn’t have a lot of money, Oaxaca is one of the poorer parts of Mexico.” In 2001, when Martinez turned 20 years old he decided that he wanted to migrate to America to try and make more money.

When Martinez arrived in Los Angeles, he had no idea what he wanted to do for work but he told himself he needed to work hard. He barely knew any English and had zero work experience in the States, however, one of Martinez’s friends got him a job at Tomato Pie, a pizza shop located in Silver Lake.

For the first two weeks, Martinez said he didn’t like it, “My apron was all full of flour and I was dirty, I didn’t like it you know.”

Martinez worked at Tomato Pie for six and a half years and this is when he realized that this is what he wanted to do. “It was my dream,” Martinez said, “I knew I would have my own spot one day, I just didn’t know when.”

After a while, Martinez started to miss his family and Oaxaca. “It was different moving from Mexico to a big city,” Martinez said. In 2007 he returned home for two years where he met his wife and they had their first child, a baby girl.

Pedro Martinez spreading sauce around on a pizza. (Dillon Laurer)

During this time Martinez realized that the big city had rubbed off on him and he missed Los Angeles and wanted to return. “My wife didn’t want me to go, she was telling me ‘no no no’ but finally she let me leave.”

So in 2009, Martinez returned to the states. It wasn’t long till his wife and daughter joined him a year later in 2010.

In 2017 Martinez got a new job at Purgatory Pizza in Los Angeles. Alex Koons, a delivery driver at Tomato Pie had opened his own shop and Martinez followed, “He was offering me more money and treated me better than the other owner.” Koons taught Martinez everything to know about Vegan food.

Martinez credits Koons a lot for elevating his culinary skills and leveling up his knowledge in the pizza and vegan world.

Martinez was waiting for his chance to open his shop, “To get something you need to invest money, but I didn’t have money, I needed to work hard,” Martinez said.

In 2020 the opportunity opened up for Martinez to run his own shop. Pizza USA was being sold and Martinez jumped on the opportunity.

After buying all of the supplies needed to get it going Martinez said, “I had no money, I thought if I worked enough it will work out.”

Martinez had gotten some help from friend Gustavo Ramos and he opened the doors ready for a great year in February 2020. However, that wasn’t the outcome, COVID-19 hit approximately two months later and put Martinez in a bad position.

“It was a tough year, no money, I don’t know how we survived, all I know is that we worked hard,” Martinez said.

Martinez worked very hard to keep his business going during the tough times working seven days a week for 12 hours a day.

Pedro Martinez topping a pizza with cheese. (Dillon Laurer)

“It was a lot of trial and error,” Martinez said. He also emphasized teaching his employees well so they could receive good pay.

After surviving COVID-19 Martinez has been able to keep Pizza USA growing. The menu offers non-vegan as well as vegan-friendly options from pizzas, pasta, sandwiches, and appetizers.

The vegan side of the menu has created a buzz through social media and has people racing to try his items.

Martinez puts an emphasis on creation and quality as he likes to buy top quality ingredients. More than half of the recipes are in-house made, hand-cut, and fresh every time to insure the customer gets great quality.

Martinez credits his hard work and his staff for what Pizza USA has become today and even has a new goal in sight.

He said, “Once this place becomes very steady I want to open a new shop, once you have two, then you get three and keep growing, but hard work and perseverance is going to get you there.”


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About the Contributor
Dillon Laurer
Dillon Laurer, Staff Writer
Dillon Laurer is a staff writer for Talon Marks. He enjoys playing & watching sports, playing video games, cooking and working on cars. He also plays football at Cerritos College and hopes to transfer in May.
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