Owners Jessica and Jason Hill.
A son pays homage to his parents’ hard work and the lessons learned from being the “House of Pizza kid”
words Cameron Hill
photography Douglas Merriam
My name is Cameron, I’m 16, but if you live in Waterboro you might know me as “the kid whose parents own the House of Pizza.” When I was younger, I loved the thought of being the “House of Pizza kid,” especially since that meant I could eat Chicken Alfredo Pizza (my absolute favorite) whenever I wanted. And owning a pizza shop sounds easy, right? My parents, Jason and Jessica Hill, will happily tell you differently. They’ve seen their fair share of ups and downs, just as I have.
Two Backgrounds, One Great Business Mind-Set
My parents both started off on the right foot—by growing up in the best state in the country, the great state of Maine. My mother, Jessica Leigh Troiano, was born in the small town of Gray. She was a bright-minded child who had an eye for fun. My father, Jason Rolla Hill, was raised in Wells. He credits his father for teaching him some of life’s basic lessons. These two different backgrounds would one day form one great business mind-set.
My dad had a long background in the restaurant business before opening the Waterboro House of Pizza. For more than 10 years, he worked at Saco House of Pizza for his cousin Mark Hill. While working there, my dad learned the importance of having good employees and a manager on whom he could rely. He also learned about food ordering. For years, he was the most reliable worker in the kitchen.
In 2005, when Mark offered him an opportunity to open his own restaurant, my dad jumped at the idea. “I was pretty excited more than anything,” he says. “Definitely nervous, but excited for the opportunity.”
My mom was 23 and my dad was 27 when they opened their restaurant in the beautiful community of Waterboro. Although very young, they proved to their families and anyone who might have doubted them that no age is too young to start a business.
“A lot of time and money went into [opening],” my dad explains. He already had recipes (graciously passed down through his family), but finding the basic equipment it takes to run a pizza shop can be difficult—things like ovens, refrigerators, grills and deep fryers. This was obviously a costly thing.
Obtaining all of the necessary licenses was also difficult but the least of their concerns. Everything from prepping and cleaning to securing loans was handled by my parents. Having the love of their life as their teammate must make it more enjoyable; and, with a strong and ambitious focus on their idea, opening the restaurant only got easier as it went along.
Cheese pizzas and the 16-inch Veggie Pizza (it's loaded!).
A Grand Opening
The initial opening of the Waterboro House of Pizza saw a great success. My parents both worked seven days a week to get the restaurant off the ground, which showed their dedication. Word got around easily in such a great community. Being close to Massabesic High School helped. “We have always tried to be involved with the school and the community as a whole,” my mom says. The Mustangs responded by eating lots of pizza.
The initial six months that Waterboro House of Pizza was open was a very exciting time for our family. “Oh boy, the first six months, they were tough, I will never forget,” says my mom. “All the money that went into it and having two small children and worrying about them. What if we weren’t successful?”
“The hardest thing about owning a business is finding good, trustworthy help,” says my dad, “and constantly worrying about everything, even when you’re not there…. You want everything to be perfect, so people come back.”
These challenges did not stop my parents. “Owning your own business is a lot of work, and it’s a big headache,” my dad says, “[but] if you can do a good job and be successful, it’s worth it.”
As of September 2016, the Waterboro House of Pizza has been successfully running for 12 years. After so long, you might ask my parents, “Why are you still doing this?” Well, the truth is, they love doing it.
For years, they have served people from all walks of life, with a smile on their face. Their names have become household names throughout the community, and rightfully so, as their hard work and welcoming attitude have paid off.
As their son, I have learned that a business is full of ups and downs. Growing up, I was alone a lot as my parents worked at the restaurant. It made me cherish the times we shared even more. As the years have racked up, it’s become clearer how much my dad means to me, and if it weren’t for him opening the restaurant, I don’t think it would have been that easy. I would say the same thing for my mom, but not exactly in the same way. The restaurant made me realize what she expects of me and that she is there for me even though she isn’t always with me. It made me appreciate the way I was being raised.
The House of Pizza is something that I would not change about my life. It has taught me many things. So, yes, I am OK with being “the kid whose parents own the House of Pizza.”
My suggestion to you is to visit our restaurant. Make it an experience. Sit down. Enjoy the undeniably delicious food. Take in the story. Only then will you realize why this restaurant is so beloved by our community and by me.
Waterboro House of Pizza
929 Main St., Waterboro