20-year old Pitt student owns and runs Vocelli Pizza in Hampton Township


Romita Das | Senior Staff Photographer

Dylan Mitchell, a sophomore law, criminal justice and society and politics and philosophy major.

By Elle Kenney, Staff Writer

Dylan Mitchell, a 20-year-old full time sophomore law, criminal justice and society and politics and philosophy major, began working at Vocelli Pizza in Hampton Township at 15 and became a shift lead a year later. At 17, his family purchased the store, and now he spends 40 to 60 hours a week running the pizzeria. 

“It’s knowing how to manage your time and limit it where you recognize what’s important, what’s not important in life, and trying to further yourself having lofty goals and knowing that you set your sights on that goal, and you want to go towards that,” Mitchell said. 

When balancing between school and work, Mitchell said he has to make a lot of sacrifices. While he still has a social life, he chooses to focus on franchising and getting his education. 

“There’s not that ideology of having a college experience or something, it’s knowing that I’m here for an education, and then I can be furthering my education, furthering my entrepreneurship at the same time,” Mitchell said. “You can do two things at once. If you sacrifice other facets that may be like a social life, still you can have it but it’s definitely limited.”

Mitchell said because he is young, he needs to have additional management skills, as he is in charge of people who sometimes are older than him, and issues may arise. He uses his experience and knowledge and some confidence to make sure people respect and have faith in him.

“There’s always that sense of like, ‘why are they telling me what to do?’ So you have to be able to kind of just lead by example,” Mitchell said. “Show them that you know what you’re doing and have the authority and the confidence, so that people will listen and will follow you and you don’t have to encounter problems.”

To help boost employee morale and encourage them to stay, Mitchell said he tries to be considerate and introduce different games. For one of the games, Mitchell timed himself making a pizza and pinned $20 to a board, so whoever makes it faster than him wins the $20. He said it’s important to make his employees happy, especially because in the food industry, there are high turnover rates. 

“You don’t want to kill people’s morale or anything, I want people to enjoy working there,” Mitchell said. “Keep [staff] coming back, especially in today’s day and age where it’s hard to keep staff. Turnover is so high in the food industry. ”

Jon Matschener, a first-year undeclared engineering major, first met Mitchell when he began working at Vocelli’s two and a half years ago, and became a shift lead six months ago. He said Mitchell’s dedication and hard work make him a great store owner and boss.

“He definitely puts in the time and he works there a lot more than I do. He only has school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, he scheduled it out that way. So I think he works four to five days a week at the pizza shop,” Matschener said. “If there’s ever a question that anybody has, [we] just go to him for it because he always seems to know what he’s doing.”

Additionally, Matschener said Mitchell has been working at the pizzeria longer than anyone else. According to Matschener, this allows Mitchell to step up and become the shift lead or delivery driver whenever it’s needed. 

“He’s been working there the longest. He worked there two years prior to me. So he’s been there for five years,” Matschener said. “If anybody ever gets flustered at work, like, if a shift manager ever doesn’t know what they’re doing, he always steps in and takes over and runs the shift. He also drives for us, because we’re kind of low on employees right now.”

Jax Law, another shift manager and a first-year graphic design major at Pittsburgh Technical College, said working with Mitchell is great because she feels like they get along and understand each other. 

“It’s pretty great. Solely because we have the same little mind link in ADHD. So we kind of bounce off each other and know what we’re gonna do,” Law said. “I worked somewhere else for like three months. And it was really weird having a boss that also didn’t have ADHD. And I was like, ‘You don’t understand how I’m getting to these places.’”

Law also said Mitchell is a great owner because he tries to accommodate everyone’s requests, even if it means he loses sleep. 

“He does great as an owner, he knows what he’s doing. He’s been there the longest. And when we had him doing the schedule, everyone’s requests were completely fulfilled,” Law said. “You see them and he’s like, ‘I haven’t gotten hours asleep’ or ‘how are you?’ Still going, he just completely balances it all in some way.” 

Mitchell said his future plans include getting into the real estate business and politics and going to law school. On Dec. 1, he will become the president of Pitt’s College Republicans club. According to Mitchell, his main goal in life is to further his entrepreneurship and hold political office. 

“My eventual goal is definitely to try to use business real estate entrepreneurship to be successful enough that I can run for political office so I can fund my own campaign and not have to take money from people, because then you owe things,” Mitchell said. “I’d rather be able to run myself and know that I’m sticking to what I value.”