05/13/2013 05:06 pm ET Updated May 13, 2013

Joe Aiello, Pittsburgh Pizzeria Owner Dying Of Cancer, Pays Tribute To Customers

The founder of a famous Pittsburgh pizzeria is giving his customers one final arrivederci.

Joe Aiello, an Italian immigrant to America who started Aiello's Pizza in 1978, is dying from lung cancer, marking the end of an era for local patrons, WTAE Action News 4 reported. His final wish, according to the news station, is to share a message of gratitude with his customers.

"He greatly appreciates the business and the fun times you guys have given him and he's going to miss that," Aiello's son, Mike, said on his father's behalf.

Joe tossed dough for 35 years at the pizza joint until his illness forced him to retire, according to WTAE. He did not speak English when he immigrated to America, and he arrived in the U.S. in 1968 with little more than $13 to his name.

According to his son, who is taking over the shop, Joe became known for his work ethic. "If you got time to lean, you've got time to clean," was one of his father's favorite sayings, Mike said.

And that work paid off. The shop boasts a four out of five-star rating on Yelp, where reviewers have called the slices some of the most authentic they've tasted.

"After 20+ years, this is my #1 pizza in Pittsburgh," a reviewer recently wrote, calling Aiello's food "among the best I've eaten in Baltimore, D.C., NYC, Chicago, Naples, and Rome."



5 Moms Who Launched Empires