Wednesday, July 17th, 2024 Church Directory
ROB MONSON will be taking over as the new owner of the Pizza Factory in Big Lake. (Photo by Katherine Cantin.)

Pizza Factory under new management

Pizza Factory, a restaurant situated in the same building as Big Lake City Hall, is under new management. The sale of the business was finalized on Monday, June 24. This will be the first time the business has changed management since it first opened April 24, 1987. 

Doug Cantin opened the business when he was only 23 years old and successfully ran it for the next 37 years. Patrons of the business would see him working hard in the kitchen most nights of the week for the nearly 40 years he ran the business. 

The recent sale was completed on the 24th, which Cantin said was sort of a “lucky number” for him, as the business opened on the 24th of April, and his and his wife’s birthdays are on the 24th of their respective months, and so the sale was definitely meant to be.

New owner, Rob Monson, is excited to be running the show now. Monson worked for Cantin for many years, starting in 2006 when he was just 16 years old. As a teenager, Monson thought owning a pizza place sounded like an amazing job, and imagined owning the restaurant himself one day. 

However, he pursued other jobs after college. Monson graduated from Big Lake High School and went on to attend St. Cloud State University and earn his bachelor’s degree in fine arts. After graduating, he quit Pizza Factory for a while and was working at Paragon Store Fixtures, a business in the Big Lake industrial park, where he held several positions, eventually ending up as a project manager for the company. Monson then went on to work for the Sequoia Group based out of New York, but he grew tired of the travel required for the job and ended up coming back to Big Lake to work for Paragon again. 

Even before returning to Paragon, Monson once again began to pick up shifts at the Pizza Factory to fill up the time between trips when he was home. He began to remember what he liked about his old high school job, and was happy to help when Cantin reached out to him, looking for help around the restaurant. 

As time went on, Cantin started looking forward to retirement, and would frequently make jokes asking Monson when he would buy the business. After a while, Monson stopped taking the comments as a joke and expressed genuine interest in purchasing the business. 

Now that the sale is finalized, Monson says he’s looking to keep things mostly the same from when Cantin was running the place. 

“I want to carry on Doug’s legacy,” he said. 

However, there will hopefully be a few positive changes in the future. Monson hopes to truly make the business “Geared for Perfect Pizza,” as their motto states, by training workers to make a more consistent product. He also hopes to offer online ordering in the near future, and would like to add chicken wings to the menu at some point. 

Outside of the kitchen, Monson hopes to get involved with the schools and the community, specifically noting being a potential sponsor for his step-daughter’s softball team. 

Monson still lives in Big Lake with his fiance, Paris, 11 year old step-daughter, and three year-old son. 

Cantin says he plans to spend his retirement relaxing with his dogs and doing work around his house and yard. He noted the best part of owning his own business for so many years was getting to know the regular customers and the community as a whole. He’s confident Monson will do an excellent job as the new owner, as he’s been teaching the younger man about running the business for the past few years. Cantin hopes that regular customers will continue to patronize the business. 

“Thanks to all my customers and employees from over the years for supporting the Pizza Factory,” he said.