One of Marathon’s flagship pizzerias has reopened after a short hiatus. And although her beloved owners Rigoberto and Raisa Gonzalez will no longer greet their loyal customers, their children Ricardo and Raisa Carolina promise that “nothing has changed”.
Rigoberto and Raisa have been a staple in the community since 2001, when the couple chose to move to Marathon to be closer to their first granddaughter Oriana. Together with Ricardo, they bought Upper Crust Pizza in 2001.
Continuing the recipes of the previous owner, Ricardo began to manage the kitchen, maintain and refine existing recipes while ensuring the quality of the homemade pasta. Rigoberto oversaw the operation using his years of work experience, and Raisa focused on the guest experience in the front area of ââthe house.
âMy father has been a quality control engineer for most of his life, so for him quality ingredients and the quality of the product we serve was extremely important,â said Raisa Carolina, adding that the restaurant’s presentation received a equal amount. of care. âCleanliness was special for him and my mother.
âJust little things, like not letting the light bulbs burn out,â Ricardo added. “They seem to be very trivial things, but it’s very important.”
When Rigoberto and Raisa died just four minutes apart after battles with COVID-19 in August 2021, Ricardo and Raisa Carolina understandably took some time away from the business. âThey left a big gap and we are heartbroken,â said Raisa Carolina. “But my father would have said, ‘You have to keep going,’ and my mother would have said, ‘You have it in you, and you’re going to do it right. “”
The couple carry on their parents’ traditions when they reopen Upper Crust, keeping the same recipes and menu offerings while seeking to fill in the gaps left by the passing of Rigoberto and Raisa. âMy mom was the main person making all the desserts in the restaurant, so it will be hard to fill the void, but we are trying,â Ricardo said. âWe have the recipes. “
The two of them tried their hand at some of the restaurant’s most popular or exclusive treats, including the banana tortillas and coconut cheesecake. And while the pair have a few ideas for new menu additions going forward, for now, they’re sticking with what they know. âJust simple things, because our menu is a menu that works,â Ricardo said. âI’m still here in the kitchen as a watchdog. Nothing has changed.”
âIt’s exactly the same quality,â added Raisa Carolina. âThose looking to have a home cooked meal, that’s what they’re going to find here. “
According to the Gonzalez, the support they received from their staff and other Marathon residents during a difficult time was unprecedented. âWe had an outrageous number of people coming to hug us and praise the quality of the food,â said Raisa Carolina.
They are also quick to credit their staff. âWe have the same local employees that we had before, with a few new additions,â said Raisa Carolina. âThe old crew stayed with us through thick and thin during the shutdown, and we are very grateful to them for that,â added Ricardo.
And while Upper Crust is now in full swing, Ricardo and Raisa are clearly committed to pursuing the principles and standards set out so clearly by their parents.
âThat’s basically why we decided to reopen,â Ricardo said. “To maintain the memory.”