Operating both a pizza parlor and financial services business under the same roof has worked out perfectly for 47-year-old owner Mike Nixon.
He was 18 and just out of high school in August 1988 when he got his “first paycheck job” at the newly opened Papa’s Pizza Cafe on E. First Street.
When the original manager and pizza maker quit that December, Nixon became co- assistant manager.
Before long, he was promoted to manager, responsible for hiring, firing, scheduling and payroll.
Just as he was finishing his studies at Sonoma State, with a degree in economics and plans to move to Santa Rosa, he was offered a chance to buy the business. He used his car’s title to secure a bank loan to add to the $5,000 in his savings account for the down payment. By March 1993 he was the new owner.
About the time he and his wife were expecting a second child, they decided he would get a day job to supplement their income.
Financial planning seemed a logical choice as he had always gravitated toward finance and numbers. Nixon Financial Services was launched in 2005, and for several years, he only worked in the restaurant Friday nights and an occasional weekend morning.
Three years ago, he had an opportunity to purchase a building at 105 N. Cloverdale Blvd. After an extensive remodel, he moved both Papa’s Pizza and Nixon Financial to their new location in March 2016.
The financial office is in the back of the pizza parlor and entered through the back patio area. There is no sign as most of his business is conducted online or over the phone.
He currently services several hundred Medicare and other insurance clients. The Cloverdale native is city treasurer, and has been on both the Planning Commission and the City Council, including a term as mayor.
He has also served on the Senior Center and Chamber of Commerce boards. In 2011, he was Cloverdale’s Spirit of Sonoma County nominee.
Papa’s Pizza has been the first job for many local teens and Nixon makes sure to hold a spot for those returning from college during summer breaks.
He recently hosted a party to celebrate the restaurant’s 30th anniversary and more than 80 former employees from around the country came to town for the celebration.