At age 19, Lynchburg native Seth Westgate realized his passion for food service thanks to the infectious joy of local pizza truck proprietor Al “Vito” Vassallo.
“When we got busy on the food truck, Vito would get excited,” Westgate recalled. “He’d start dancing around and just being silly, messing around. That instilled a passion for [food service] in me. I love to be busy, and I love serving people food that I know is quality.”
Six years after he started working for Vito’s Pizza, Westgate is now the owner and operator of 5th Street Vito’s, downtown Lynchburg’s newest pizza shop. Along with his two brothers, Myles and Ethan, he is laying the foundation of a family-run business he hopes to continue for years to come.
After working alongside Vassallo in his food trucks, Westgate got the initial opportunity to try his hand at running his own business when Vassallo decided to retire.
“I worked with Vito for a couple of years, and then he retired,” he noted. “He told me to build a truck and that I could have all his spots. That’s where it started with the food truck.”
Westgate had success and enjoyed the food truck business, often traveling to businesses around Lynchburg to serve company lunches and setting up at community events.
Everything changed in March 2020.
“I did [the food truck] full-time for a few years,” said Westgate. “Then, when COVID-19 hit, I really didn’t have a choice but to do something different.”
He knew his best move was to try to find a brick-and-mortar location for his business.
One place stood out to Westgate in particular: the building on Fifth Street that formerly housed Daughters and Sons Pizza. The building sat empty for over a year and was not put up for lease, but in April 2021, the Westgate family’s fate changed.
“One day, my dad was driving by and saw it was up for lease,” Westgate recalled. “I called and signed the lease two days later.”
Westgate, his two brothers, and their parents spent the next five months tearing down, reconstructing, and redecorating much of the inside of the building.
Finally, on December 10, 2021, 5th Street Vito’s opened its doors to the public.
Westgate said that while there has been a learning curve for him, running the restaurant has been a blessing.
The three Westgate brothers make all their products in-house—everything from wing sauces to dry rubs to blue cheese dressing—and are consistently honing their craft to make the best pizza, sandwiches, salads, and wings for their customers.
“I am going for the best pizza in Lynchburg this year,” Westgate said.
“I want to get that award.”
Photos Courtesy of Downtown Lynchburg Association