The back of a dark blue Subaru Impreza tells the short story of why Frank Abbatecola drove across the country to open one of Worcester’s newest pizza shops relays

A sticker placed near the center of the back window displays the “I Love Frankies” logo that also appears on the sign hanging outside the restaurant, which specializes in New York-style pizza.

Above the logo another sticker reads, “Love Wins.”

Below the Subaru logo, encasing the Colorado license plate, a plastic holder reads “Pizza Fixes Everything” in green, white and red and a motto that allowed Abbatecola to close a nearly 2,000-mile gap between him and his daughter.

The longer story runs from Long Island to Florida, down to Antarctica, back to Colorado and eventually to a small pizza shop called at the corner of Dorchester and Providence Street, that since opening has experienced lines outside the door and takeout orders with wait times of three hours.

Each step along the way, Abbatecola made for his daughter Lily.

“It was just a little bit of everything. Right place, right time,” Abbatecola said. “I just ended up here for my daughter. I just moved here to be closer to my little girl. Nothing is more important to me than being a dad.”

Frank Abbatecola opened ‘I Love Frankies’ pizzeria in early 2021 with 25 years in the industry. It’s been a hit in Worcester so far with lines forming outside the Providence Street location.

Abbatecola grew up in Long Island in a family that owned restaurants, but when his parents split, he moved to Florida with his mom. In Miami, he met a girl originally from Marlborough, who eventually became Lily’s mother.

When Abbatecola turned 21, he moved to Colorado, where he would live for about 25 years before eventually moving to Worcester.

In more than two decades in Colorado, Abbatecola spent time building runways for scientists about 800 miles from the south pole in Antarctica. He became a musician and spent time in California and Atlanta.

Home, though, became Denver and more specifically near a pizza oven. Still, it felt empty with is daughter living in Massachusetts.

“I’m not wired to be away,” Abbatecola said. “So I had always been fighting to get here.”

Three years ago Abbatecola decided to sell his pizzeria in Denver to move to Massachusetts.

Life kept placing hurdles between him and his daughter, though. In the three years before moving to Worcester, Abbatecola endured four car crashes. Each time a person hit him, causing a new injury that delayed his trip.

“They kept me in Colorado,” Abbatecola said. “It was like, another accident, there goes my shoulder. Another accident, there goes my knee. Another accident, there goes the other part of my knee. It just kept me there.”

Even when he eventually sold the pizzeria and began the nearly 2,000-mile trek east, his appendix burst.

None of it deterred Abbatecola, who lives by the Law of Attraction, which dictates that whatever can be imagined and held in the mind’s eye is achievable if you take action on a plan to get to where you want to be.

Nearly every evening, Abbatecola looks up to the universe and finds optimism for the next day or his next journey.

While he was a musician, Abbatecola dreamed of traveling the world and playing in London. He placed a photo of the city in his guitar case as inspiration to make it become reality, which it did.

“When I left Denver, I knew I wanted a line out the door, I didn’t know how I was going to do it, I just knew I was going to do it at some point,” Abbatecola said.

Frank Abbatecola opened ‘I Love Frankies’ pizzeria in early 2021 with 25 years in the industry. It’s been a hit in Worcester so far with lines forming outside the Providence Street location.

To envision success in Worcester, Abbatecola considered lining his daughter’s Barbies along the windows to simulate a line wrapping around the restaurant. Instead, he dived into the internet for online marketing.

Months before opening, Abbatecola created a Facebook account for “I Love Frankies” and flooded Worcester foodie groups with promotions for his new pizzeria.

Brainstorming sessions for the name of the restaurant included suggestions like “Eastie Boys”, a play on the hip hop group formed in the ’80s.

“I wanted to name it ‘Eastie Boys’, I’d answer the phone ‘Eastie Boys, whatcha want, whatcha want?’” Abbatecola said with a laugh. “But it was shot down by many people. A lot of my friends and family said just name it Frankies.”

Abbatecola feared a bland name like “Frankies” would get lost among the scores of pizzerias in the city, even if it’s one of the few locations in the city with New York-style pizza. So, he created the pizzeria’s website:

Type in “I Love Frankies” into a Google search and the restaurant description on the right side of the page reads “Worcester’s best pizza.”

Anytime someone Googles “Worcester’s best pizza,” Frankie’s pops up first.

“If somebody’s going to type in Worcester’s best pizza, I’m going to come up first every time,” Abbatecola said. “They may not be looking for me specifically, they’re just looking for that wordplay on Worcester’s best pizza.”

Frank Abbatecola opened ‘I Love Frankies’ pizzeria in early 2021 with 25 years in the industry. It’s been a hit in Worcester so far with lines forming outside the Providence Street location.

With 25 years of experience, Abbatecola stands by the name. He often views the 24-inch swirling disc of dough above him as a blank canvas to create a culinary work of art. Customers seem to agree with lines wrapping around Providence Street and waits sometimes reaching 3 hours.

The menu is filled with eye-catching pizzas topped with baked mac and cheese and tater tots to nacho taco-inspired pie.

But Abbatecola is a pizza perfectionist. After moving to Central Massachusetts in August, he picked up a part-time job in Holden at a restaurant making pizzas. One evening his boss looked at him meticulously spreading the sauce across the dough.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect,” she said.

Abbatecola responded, “It does, though.”

His favorite item on the menu is the pie formerly known as the Blue Ribbon. Now called El Presidente to lure Dave Portnoy, Barstool Sports founder and pizza connoisseur, to Worcester, the pie includes several kinds of cheese laid on top of pepperoni.

Frank Abbatecola latest work of art through pizza dough is the El Presidente, meant to lure Dave Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports and pizza connoisseur, to Worcester.

After it’s out of the oven, Abbatecola tops it with oils to put it over the edge. He has plans to unveil new pies during the summer, including one named after his new home, where days after opening in early 2021, a line formed outside the pizzeria as Abbatecola’s vision became a reality.

“I’m overwhelmed. I’m in love with the city,” Abbatecola said. “There’s such great energy here. I really am blown away at the receptions I’ve received from everybody. I’m home.”

Extending hours at I Love Frankies have limited wait times, but months later the pies are still in high demand.

By the register, a small piece of paper includes handwritten times in 15-minute intervals for every hour the restaurant is open. As soon as orders reach the maximum the large double-decker ovens can handle, the time is crossed off. Any new call-in will be pushed to the next available slot.

Frank Abbatecola opened ‘I Love Frankies’ pizzeria in early 2021 with 25 years in the industry. It’s been a hit in Worcester so far with lines forming outside the Providence Street location.

Abbatecola believes fate played a role in him moving into the pizzeria on Providence Street and enjoying the success in Worcester.

In 2019, when visiting the state and scouting out possible locations, he applied for a job at the former pizzeria, A & C Pizza.

A year later when moving into the restaurant, he found his application in one of the drawers.

“I just took a leap of faith,” Abbatecola said. “There’s nothing else you can do. When you have will there’s a way. And when you have a child involved, you do everything and anything you can to provide for them.”

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