Debbie Ryke

Local businessman wants to feed the town of Rockford for free

September 20, 2012 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA In a way, buying their own restaurant was like an anniversary present for Debbie and Douglas Ryke. The couple celebrated their fifteenth anniversary the day after they opened the doors of Fatzo’s Pizza. In a way, it was like a whole new marriage. “The restaurant is our life now,” said Debbie of the couple’s eatery, which is located in the same spot that was formerly J.D.’s Pizza, and prior to that Peppino’s. Debbie said her husband, the “Fatzo” of the restaurant’s name, has been putting in 90 hour weeks to ensure his dream is off to a good start. She also noted that she might go on a diet because she doesn’t like the idea of becoming known as “Mrs. Fatzo.” Debbie said Douglas always wanted to have a restaurant of his own, and after working in the industry for more than 30 years, opening and running well-known Italian restaurants in West Michigan, he finally decided now was the time. One week to the day after the Friday, September 7 opening, Debbie said business has been terrific, people have been enthusiastic, and food has been “flying” out the door. Douglas said he always believes food is best when it is all made by hand and his is—with the exception of the ravioli—and all with authentic Italian recipes. The restaurant features pizzas, including the famous Chicago-style with two layers of dough, cheese and fresh toppings covered with a hand-rolled crust and sauce, and also other Italian favorites—lasagna, mostaccoli, oven-baked subs, breadsticks, salads and a wet burrito which has already become one of the hottest-selling menu items. The menu features more than 45 items. Douglas said the couple worked hard to prepare for the rebirth of the restaurant as Fatzo’s, where customers can dine in, order delivery or pick up to-go orders. The staff so far is three—the Rykes, and literally the best man they could find for the job, Tom Remington. In addition to offering the same extensive restaurant experience as Douglas, Remington was the couple’s best man at their wedding. “It was fun last Saturday,” said Debbie. “We were all here working and we were joking with each other, saying, ‘I know where you were 15 years ago.’ “ Douglas has an […]