Posted Mar 21, 2007 by Jessica Balanza
Updated Mar 21, 2007 at 03:51 PM
By JESSICA BALANZA
The Italian Way will make its way to the Westchase area April 1.
The franchise is owned by Alan Lopez and Paul Parson. The 5537 Sheldon Road location will be the duo’s third eatery in the Tampa Bay area.
The Tampa-based franchise is a pizzeria-style restaurant that features items such as Philly cheese steak sandwiches, pizza, chicken wings and calzones.
Lopez and Parson presently own two other stores, both in St. Petersburg. The partners met about four months ago through mutual business friends and decided to work together.
“Each of us has different strengths, which offset our weaknesses,” said Lopez, a South Tampa resident.
Lopez added that although both will work together on the company, he will handle the marketing aspect, while Parson manages the business operations.
Parson said that when he found the location it was perfect.
The 1,000-square-foot space was occupied in the past by a different pizzeria, thus it required little work for The Italian Way to open there, said Lopez.
“It’s a busy and growing area,” said Parson, a Riverview resident. “It is (an area) diverse economically and culturally. We are really excited about having the opportunity of working in the area.”
Parson and Lopez agree that so far they have enjoyed having the restaurants.
“The most fun is people telling me how good the food is,” said Lopez. “I want feedback no mater how positive or negative.”
“The concept is different then most out there,” said Parson. “Everything is fresh and nothing is preordered.”
The Italian Way presently has about 13 locations open throughout Florida. Once the location opens, it will mirror many of the other restaurants. It will have about 10 employees and enough space to seat about 20 customers.
Rick Onderko, president and chief executive officer of Franchise Concepts LLC, is also working on expanding the franchise throughout the United States.
“I want to grow faster and get the name out there,” said Onderko.
Onderko and his wife, Meredith, purchased a portion of the Westshore Pizza franchise in 2005, switching to the new name.
“I wanted something different,” said Onderko, who formerly owned a Beef O’ Brady’s restaurant in St. Petersburg.
Being of Italian decent, Onderko said he and his wife utilized their culture and changed many of the ingredients in the recipes to make it more authentic.
For more information about The Italian Way, visit http://www.theitalianway.com.