The Chandler brothers learned the restaurant business from their parents, Lowell and Kathleen, who opened a pizzeria in Litchfield in 1972.
Jeff and Scott run that restaurant, now called Chandler Brothers Pizza Man. Dennis owns and operates a second location in Troy.
Their parents retired about 10 years ago, but they stop in periodically for meals.
"Dad still gives us advice, and we always listen," said Dennis, 52, of Edwardsville. "When he says, 'Son, everything's good,' you know everything's good."
The two restaurants specialize in thin-crust pizza, but they also offer a thick crust, Chicago-style deep dish and stuffed pizza, appetizers, salads, calzones, pasta, sub sandwiches and open-faced chicken "toasters."
"We make our own pizza sauce," Dennis said. "We make our own pasta sauce. We have our own special blend of sausage, and we use only 100-percent, whole-milk mozzarella. It's the best you can buy."
On a recent weekday, customer Marty Milkovich ate at the Troy restaurant with Mike Runge, a co-worker in the construction business. Marty ordered one of the lunch specials: a three-topping, 8-inch pizza, salad and soft drink for $7.10.
"The food is really good, and it's a good value for your money," said Marty, 50, of Staunton. "It's a nice family place, and the service is fast."
The restaurant also offers buffets at lunchtime on weekdays and Sundays and in the evening on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Pastoral Associate Lorraine Senci, 50, of Troy, has eaten at Chandler Brothers Pizza Man several times.
"I'm a vegetarian, and they have a variety of non-meat options," she said.
Lowell and Kathleen's original pizzeria was part of a small chain called Monical's Pizza.
They helped found the Christian Church of Litchfield by allowing members to hold services in the restaurant.
"As young kids, we would move all the tables out of the center and make several rows of chairs facing the fireplace," according to a history on the menu. "They made a pulpit out of some wood and a piece of paneling."
Dennis and his wife, Cheryl, opened the Troy restaurant in 2005. He had worked 28 years in the corporate world, retiring as a general manager with Aramark.
The couple later tried operating an Edwardsville location for about year but didn't like dividing their time.
Dennis has two daughters, Lindsey, 24, and Lacey, 28. Cheryl died of cancer about a year ago.
"I want customers to know why I was gone," said Dennis, who has gradually returned to his regular schedule with support from his fiance, Elizabeth Affsprung.
Chandler Brothers Pizza Man in Troy is housed in a large, gray free-standing metal building along Illinois 162.
The dining room has sage-green walls, wooden tables and booths, chandeliers and plants. A game room gives kids something to do while parents relax.
Each year, Dennis gives away 3,000 to 4,000 personal-size pizzas to students at local schools who excel in sports or academics. The restaurant also hosts fundraisers for charitable groups.
"My dad always said, 'If you take care of the community, the community is going to take care of you,'" Dennis said.
At a glance
What: Chandler Brothers Pizza Man
Where: 611 Edwardsville Road in Troy
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
Seating: 185 (includes 55-seat banquet room)
Carry-outs: Yes (baked and unbaked)
Information: 618-667-8101 or www.mypizzaman.com
On the menu
Pizza Man Delight -- Sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions and bell peppers ($14.35 for 12-inch, $17.95 for 14-inch and 21.50 for 16-inch)
Family Feast -- 16-inch one-topping pizza, six soft drinks and salad bar for six people or 10-piece order of breadsticks with meat sauce ($28.95)
Lasagna -- Layers of flat noodles, stuffed with ricotta cheese and housemade classic meat sauce, topped with mozzarella and Parmesan/Romano blend, served with salad and garlic bread ($7.65)
Bacon Cheeseburger Calzone -- Hamburger, bacon, onions and American and mozzarella cheeses in a calzone, lightly seasoned and served with meat sauce for dipping ($7.45)
Weekday Lunch Buffet -- Unlimited trips to bar with several kinds of pizza, and salad with all the fixings from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday ($5.99)