In New York, the construction company owner moved him into an office job. But once his wife and their young son joined him a year later, he decided not to raise his family in New York. He contacted a former neighbor from Pakistan about moving to the friend's adopted city, Baltimore.

In Baltimore, Ghafoor found a job at a gas station, working 15-hour days and relying on public transportation to get to work. A co-worker who had moved on to a pizza restaurant told him the owner was looking for drivers, and he began delivering pizzas.

The owner of that restaurant, also called Michaelangelo's, became a close friend and eventually offered Ghafoor a partnership in the business. He began running a location in Parkville but found himself unprepared. He sold his interest and took a job as a manager of Pompeii Pizza on Northern Parkway.

After several years, he longed for the chance to run his own business again. He borrowed money from several friends who were business owners, and spotted a promising location: a closed sushi restaurant in a strip shopping center with a nail salon, a mini-market and other small restaurants just north of Towson's business district.

He and his wife, who have two children and live in Parkville, poured $120,000 into renovations, installed two pizza ovens, four french fry fryers and a grill. For the first six months, the couple worked on their own, with the help of just one driver, then a second, to establish the business and learn the neighborhood delivery routes.

Ghafoor's wife, Josephine, still works with him at the restaurant, mostly a carryout and delivery operation, but with four tables for eat-in customers in the front of the light-filled shop. While pizza, pasta and other Italian dishes are the mainstays, the eatery makes Indian/Pakistani food on special order, such as chicken biryani.

To prepare for Super Bowl sales, Ghafoor made sure to place his chicken wing orders early enough so as not to face a shortage during this high-demand period, ordering 15 extra 40-pound cases of wings from supplier Sysco. He also ordered 25 of the 30-pound boxes of mozzarella cheese — up from his regular order of 15.

Ghafoor said he started getting inquiries about catering parties of 25 to 30 people more than a week ago. The deliveries for food he expects to sell Sunday started arriving Tuesday, and his workers were to begin marinating and seasoning the chicken wings on Saturday. He planned another big delivery Friday and extra pizza dough Saturday.

On Sunday, he plans to bring a big-screen TV from home so customers and workers can watch the game. His drivers all wanted to work because it's a big day. They will be sporting team colors and displaying Ravens flags on their cars.

Now, he's just hoping the Ravens do their part. If the game doesn't go Baltimore's way, it could put a damper on all the partying. And that would affect business.

Overall, he says, "my business is doing good."

When asked recently by a friend back in Pakistan how life was going in the U.S., Ghafoor told him it was like having an open road ahead of him. "It's up to you how far you go," he told his friend.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

  • Text BUSINESS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun Business text alerts
  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts