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JEFF LIOTARD

Getting married was best thing to happen to him

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JEFF LIOTARD

Jeff Liotard – the owner of Mountain Mike’s Pizza and Chilaberries – is an active member of the Manteca Noon Rotary and has taken his service to an international level.

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin


POSTED February 24, 2012 8:50 p.m.

NAME: Jeff Liotard

JOB: Owner, Mountain Mike’s Pizza and Chilaberries

BORN: Stockton – Raised in Ripon

HIGH SCHOOL: Ripon High School

HIGH SCHOOL ACTIVITIES: Football and baseball. “I played during the Don Widmer era when we won Sectionals two years in a row and were Southern League champions all four years. It was a great group. I could go on for days about those times.”

WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM YOUR PARENTS: “From my dad I learned work ethic. I only remember my dad taking two days off  because he was sick. Don Widmer also showed me the value of working hard.”

GREATEST THING TO EVER HAPPEN TO YOU
: “Getting married is the best thing that ever happened to me. It was better than getting dumped on Christmas Day – when my presents went from being for Sweetie to just Jeff. But when she proposed to me that didn’t matter anymore.”

PET PEEVE
: “Parents that aren’t active with their kids. My wife and I both raised our kids equally, so when I see kids that don’t have attention it gets to me.”

LAST NICE THING A STRANGER DID
: “A few years ago I was getting out of my van and my wallet fell out of my pocket onto the ground. Somebody found it in the parking lot and said he thought it looked like the guy he saw walk through the door so he came inside – naturally I bought him dinner. It’s normally the other way around for me. I also remember running out of gas when I first got my Mountain Mike’s van when trying to make it to the gas station and my neighbor pulled in and just happened to have gas on him. That was a big help.”

FAVORITE DINING HAUNT (RESTAURANT) & MENU ITEM
: “When we go on vacation and we’re away for more than three days we really do truly crave Mountain Mikes Pizza. We have to have it. We’re just pizza people.”

BEST GIFT EVER RECEIVED
: “My two daughters. They’re spitting images of Mom and Dad and they push the limits of life to the fullest. They’re both at MJC right now. Mahlynn is involved with track – throwing the discus and the shot put and the hammer – and getting ready to go down to Northridge to continue her education. Jaslynn is getting ready to go to New York for a modeling house this summer. I’m not ready to let go yet – that’s a real toughy for me because I’ve always been about family, family, family. We just got a new dining room table and the one that we had before we had for 18 or 19 years – I took it and put it in storage. I couldn’t part it with it because that’s where we broke bread. I’m close with my kids.”

IDEA OF A GREAT DAY
: “Waking up, going on a walk with Dr. Fred (Stellhorn) now that I’m in control of the pace – we walk about four miles a day with the dogs – and then make my rounds to all of my stops and then have coffee with my wife. It would be peaceful. Get a few phone calls for all of the fundraisers that we do – just being involved all day.”

CURRENT BOOK READING
: “The Manteca Bulletin is my bible. I get most of the stuff that I learn from programs on the History Channel and Discovery Channel and programs like those.”

FAVORITE PLACE TO GO IN MANTECA (HANGOUT): “Either here at Mountain Mike’s or Chilaberries or at home.”

FAVORITE MOVIE
: Forrest Gump

FAVORITE ACTOR AND WHY?
“Leaving politics out, I love Samuel L. Jackson. Martin Lawrence and Will Smith are good together. Kevin Costner is great at being able to take things back in time.”

BIGGEST CHANGE IN MANTECA OVER PAST 10 YEARS: “It’s grown so big. Being in the business that I’m in you would have thought it changed, but with sports in this town the same people are involved in organizing them – it’s a very tight group and that hasn’t changed. We’ve got the big box stores now, but everybody complains that we don’t have what they don’t want – we don’t have a steakhouse. We have to utilize what we do have.”

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A BUSINESS OWNER IN MANTECA?: “All of the relationships that I get to have on a daily basis.”

WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY?: “Programs that work. I didn’t realize the impact of the fundraising that we do and the impacts of the groups – people coming in and saying that we have to have your fundraising – have us always trying to come up with something different. We’re willing to bend over backwards to help these groups out.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO BE A PART OF A ROTARY GROUP THAT BRINGS THE GIFT OF SIGHT OR DENTISTRY TO A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY?: “That’s a book right there. I’m very, very fortunate to be surrounded by the people of the Manteca Rotary. Fred Stellhorn and Mark Oliver have been huge mentors to me and supported me in the functions that we do – both locally and internationally – in the beginning. We’re very fortunate to be able to use our own money to do the things that we do out there. When we go down to places like Honduras and the Nicaraguan border, people look at me like I’m God – these are people that haven’t been able to see their entire lives. For 65 or 70 years they haven’t had that ability and all of a sudden they get a pair of glasses and things are in focus. It’s amazing. I’ll do it again – I’ll be there in June, and then in January. It’s going to continue to be a part of my international giving. It’s very, very important for my scope of life. The power of that whole system of Rotary is unbelievable and there are no limits. My family is a Rotary family now – my wife is a big part of the Interact Club at Sierra High and she works with Superintendent Jason Messer on that and my kids help out every chance they get. It’s in their blood now.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE EVER GIVEN TO YOU?: “’Jeff, just have patience.’ From my mother.”

WHAT WAS THE BEST PART OF THE LAST YEAR FOR YOU?: “Getting the chance to spend the time that I did with all of my extended family in my dining room – I consider the room out here my dining room. We’ve seen a substantial increase in pizza-eating families over the last year that come in and enjoy the restaurant and have a good time.”

IF YOU COULD CHANGE SOMETHING ABOUT THE BUSINESS LANDSCAPE IN MANTECA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?: “Everybody plays on a fair playing field. Everybody’s taxes are exactly the same.”

WHAT’S THE MOST STRESSFUL THING ABOUT BEING YOUR OWN BOSS?: “Meeting all of the deadlines. Having to understand why the insurance went up, workman’s comp went up, gas is going up – all of the things that come with running a business.”

WHAT DID YOU DO PRIOR TO PURCHASING MOUNTAIN MIKES, AND WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO GO INTO BUSINESS FOR YOURSELF?: “I’ve been involved with other businesses. I spent 15 years working at the paper mill in Ripon, and prior to that I had a landscaping business and a business shaking almonds and walnuts. I’ve always loved talking to people, and I’m very fortunate to have been able to have gotten into a business where that’s a plus.”

FAVORITE GETAWAY: “I like going to San Francisco and getting a crab and shrimp sandwich across the street from Alioto’s and then over to Pier 39 to get mini cinnamon donuts at Trish’s. And then we have the timeshare in Roaton, Honduras – we love going there.”

WHAT DO YOU DO FOR EXERCISE? “Walk and talk.”

HARDEST THING YOU EVER HAD TO DO?
“What I’m doing right now – juicing to lose weight. I like eating and I feel like I’m hungry all the time and all I can look at are fruits and vegetables. It’s a constant battle in my mind and it’s tough. I envy the people that come in and order pizzas – the other day I had to leave because I couldn’t stand it anymore.”

WHO DO YOU ADMIRE? “I admire my wife for the accomplishments that she’s made and all of the things that she continues to do. With teaching, and Chilaberries and the new volleyball coach position she has at MJC – and then dealing with me. I really do admire her.”

IF YOU WERE SOMEONE ELSE AND YOU HAD TO DESCRIBE WHAT KIND OF PERSON JEFF WAS, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY? “Has the ability to adjust to anything. There isn’t anything that I can’t adjust to.”

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE 10 YEARS FROM NOW?
“I’d like to be doing the same thing but more involved with the community. I’d like to have another five years where I’m really involved with my kids.”

WHAT MAKES YOU PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN?
“Having the freedom to do whatever it takes to be successful.”

WHAT IS YOUR GOAL WHEN YOU WAKE UP IN THE MORNING?
“Definitely to spend my time with the people I love the most and look forward to having a successful and non-eventful day.”

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IN MANTECA HAVE THAT IT CURRENTLY DOESN’T?
“I’m very content with what we have here in town. People talk about there being things that we need here – a steakhouse, a Lowes – but there’s very little that you can’t get here. If you leave town it’s because you choose to leave town.”



— Jason Campbell
staff reporter

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