When Frank Vella spotted a familiar face walking into his new pharmacy on Erie Street, he sauntered from his office to greet the man on the main floor.

Standing among the shelves of over-the-counter medications, Frank demonstrates how to sit in a way that alleviates some of the pain emanating from the man’s sciatic nerve.

Taking time for patients and providing that personal care is why he’s been so successful as a pharmacist, explained Frank, who’s successfully founded five other shops throughout the Windsor region over the past 20 years. He says it’s that personal touch that—since opening three months ago in Via Italia—brought more than 1,000 patients through the doors of Medica Pharmacy.


“To have that many people coming here already is quite impressive,” Frank said. “We’re very happy.”

And he’s about to get busier. With the Sept. 3 opening of a new physician’s clinic—operated by Dr. Tiffany Czilli—the patient list is expected to grow exponentially.

Opening a clinic on Erie Street is a return to a different era in the popular Italian neighbourhood. The building, located at the corner of Pierre Avenue, is where the beloved Dr. Lazar Jovanovic had his office. Over several decades, he tirelessly treated thousands of immigrant patients, often donating his time during a period when there was no health care in Ontario.

Medica Pharmacy

The Via Italia business improvement association honoured Dr. Jovanovic when erecting the clock tower smack in the heart of Windsor’s Little Italy.

Frank’s family also felt the impact of the revered physician. His parents were friends of Dr. Jovanovic. They helped him acquire and translate his diploma from the Italian Vice Consulate, allowing him to practise in Canada. When the couple got pregnant, they knew they couldn’t afford to have another child. So, the widely respected physician gladly donated his time.

“He said, but if you have a boy, you got to give him my name,” Frank said.

The certificate on Frank’s office illustrates the promise with his middle name Lazar printed in large gold lettering.

Returning to the world of pharmacies is a natural fit for Frank, who owned similar businesses in Essex, Belle River, McGregor and Walkerville before he sold them and moved to Italy for a few years. After coming back to Windsor, he decided to start a new pharmacy in the neighbourhood where he grew up.

Frank Vella

Being part of the neighbourhood where he grew up means a lot to Frank, a business owner who has always given back to his community. Just recently he donated $6,000 to Street Health, a clinic that caters to the city’s homeless population. The money helped pay for a new washer and dryer.

  • Read more about the donation from AM 800

“I like to do stuff in the community where you know your dollars are having an impact,” Frank said. “A lot of business owners don’t understand. You can’t just draw money out of the community. You have to give back.”