Santo and Josephine realized they wanted to have their own business. So in 1954 they went off on their own and opened a small liquor store on Central Avenue in Chicago. Over the years their business grew. They moved across the street to a larger store and in 1972 they built a liquor store at the corners of Central and Milwaukee Avenues. At the time Paterno Liquors was considered the largest liquor store in Chicago. For almost 20 years all the Paterno grandchildren worked with their fathers and grandparents from time to time.
The dream of owning his own pizza place still lingered in Santo. In 1983, he took a portion of the liquor store and made a small carry out counter for pizza and sandwiches. Paterno Pizza was born. Every few years they expanded the pizza restaurant. By 1991 they had a full kitchen serving Santo and Josephine's homemade recipes consisting of pizza, pasta, beef, sausage, meatball, soups and much more. They also have a full service bar. At that time they decided to sell the liquor store and concentrate solely on the pizza restaurant.