Sisters take part in the family business

When customers first walk into Brother's Pizza Parlor off Hwy. 290, they are greeted by all the familiarities of a New York pizza shop—the smell of baking dough and fresh marinara and the sound of active conversation. With a variety of pizza available by the slice and whole pies made to order, the only difference between Brother's Pizza and a typical New York shop is there is enough room—and enough time—to sit down and enjoy a meal.

What started as a single pizza parlor in Greenspoint Mall has since expanded to eight pizza parlors throughout the Houston area, each operated by members of the Bekiri family.

Brother's Pizza Parlor opened in Cypress in March 2011 and is operated by sisters Flora, Merita and Minna Bekiri who can be found working in their restaurant nearly every day.

"This is not just a job for us—this is our kitchen," Merita said. "We have raised three generations on our pizza. Our regulars keep coming back each week, and we try to make sure nobody leaves unhappy."

The menu at Brother's Pizza focuses on the basics. New York style pizza is available by the slice ($1.85–$2.77) or by the pie ($9–$21). Other offerings include classic pasta dishes such as homemade lasagna ($8) and a variety of hot and cold sub sandwiches ($6–$7). There are several salads and vegetarian options.

"We want to keep [our menu] simple—nothing too fancy—so we can keep everything at a reasonable price and feed the entire family," Merita said. "We are all about community and family."

From hosting local school athletic programs to donating food for community events, the Bekiri sisters have established themselves in the Cy-Fair community.

Before moving to Houston in 1980, the Bekiri sisters grew up in Brooklyn, New York, along with more than a dozen siblings and cousins between their father and three uncles. As Albanian refugees living in Italy, the Bekiri family imigrated to New York in the 1960s with new interests in the restaurant business.

"The skills [our parents] had gained living in Europe didn't exactly transfer," Flora said. "My grandfather was a teacher in Italy, but that obviously wouldn't work here. So my uncle got a job in a pizza shop in Brooklyn just in the kitchen. After a few years, he was actually making the pies, and then we moved here to open our family's own shop."

When the economic boom hit Houston in 1980, the sisters' youngest uncle, Jimmy Bekiri, visited a friend living in Houston where he made a discovery, Merita said.

"When my uncle returned to New York, he told us, 'There's great Mexican food, but the pizza is terrible,'" she said. "So, that's when we decided to move our business to Houston."

The Bekiris traded their apartment in Brooklyn for a five-acre lot off a dirt gravel road—now Beltway 8—near Airline and West Mount Houston. The entire Bekiri family—32 brothers, sisters, uncles and cousins—lived in the house.

"It was a great way to grow up, all together like that," Merita said. "Today we may not see each other as much, but we are still very close."

Soon the family found its niche within the community. Companies and people from all over the country moved to the Houston area in the '80s, bringing hundreds of new faces through the door.

"After the boom hit, there wasn't even a line," Flora said. "It was more of a mob of people every day. We still see several of our guests from the Greenspoint location every day."

Brother's Pizza Parlor, 25282 Hwy. 290, Cypress, 281-256-0737,

  • Mon.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–9 p.m
  • Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Sun. noon–8 p.m.