New businesses aim to bring students downtown
Three brand new food locations have joined the array of businesses on Main Street and the newcomers are working to make names for themselves. La Famiglia Pizza and Pasta House, Rock N Yogurt, and Inferno Pizzeria LLC are contributing new options for both food and hangout for Slippery Rock students.
La Famiglia Pizza and Pasta House located at 354 South Main St. serves as the newest Italian restaurant at Slippery Rock. “We have the traditional pastas; we tried to branch out and do some special stuff,” explained Michael Szurek, 40, one of the owners of the business. “We have a candy bacon club that’s pretty popular- unique to the area.”
Szurek, an SRU alumnus, actually began cooking at the very building he now owns while he was a student. “In college you don’t really know how to cook; you cook macaroni and cheese…this is where I learned how to cook. I learned scratch cooking how to start with the basics.” Szurek said, adding, “I just really enjoy cooking. I really enjoy cooking Italian. I develop my own recipes and when I found out this place was up for grabs I pursued it.”
Opening in the summer, La Famigilia’s customers have consisted mostly of locals. Even so, Szurek says that business has been good, “a lot of locals have been in and out and we had some of the University over;” adding, “everyone seems to enjoy the food. They appreciate the fresh vegetables; the variety on the menu is nice.” Szurek believes that the variety on his menu encourages customers to come back again to try something new.
The summer has also presented the opportunity to polish the business before students returned. “We’re adapting. We’re new. Some of the stuff I have does work some of the stuff doesn’t work. So we’re adapting to local tastes to get everybody interested and excited,” Szurek explained. He said that he is always looking for good candidates for workers, even if the restaurant is fully staffed. “If I find somebody who is very promising I’ll talk to them, I’ll look at them and if I can find a way to get them in, I will.”
Rock N Yogurt, located at 152 South Main St., features an ever-changing variety of frozen yogurt flavors and toppings as well as smoothies. Dale Boring, SRU alumnus, owns the business with his brother, Ken Boring, 46.
Ken Boring described a typical trip to Rock N Yogurt, “[You] walk in the door. It’s self serve. Walk to the back. Cups are on the left. Yogurt is on the right. Pick a flavor or as many flavors as you want.” Next up is toppings. “We have dry toppings, cold toppings, warm toppings- have any combination you want.” At 43 cents an ounce, the yogurt is weighed, priced, then the customers can enjoy their treat. “A lot of people tell us that this is what this town needs. They all wish us well.” Boring stated.
The shop rotates its flavors out about once a week, but both vanilla and chocolate are always available. Some of the more striking flavors brought in to the store so far include maple bacon doughnut and cappuccino.
Boring felt the key to success is all in the atmosphere. He explained, “The atmosphere is what you’ve got to have. It’s relaxing; it’s clean. We plan on getting TVs here too.” Rock N Yogurt also has wifi available to customers. Boring says, “At this point we have everything worked out as far as employees, but that could change.”
Inferno Pizzeria LLC, located at 126 South Main St., is co-owned by Liza and Matthew Hovis, both 39. Inferno may be a new venture for the owners, but the location is not. Liza Hovis explained, “We have had this building in Slippery Rock for three years. It was my husband’s photography studio during that time.”
The building was never expected to stay a studio forever, but the pizzeria concept was an unexpected decision. “We threw around every type of food option we could think of;” Liza Hovis said, “we knew we wanted something quick and fast.”
The restaurant is adorned with works both from the former studio and specially designed pieces specifically created for the new pizzeria.
She says, “The reception has been more than we could ever have imagined. We did zero advertising…and it was beyond our wildest expectation how busy we were.” She thought that having the business open in the summer and being ready when the students arrive in the fall was “a good idea” adding that the store now has a system worked out for the best service.
Inferno offers a by-the-slice option for customers. “Where I was from, by the slice was huge and I knew I wanted to incorporate that, especially for a college town.” Hovis stated. “Everyone doesn’t always have twenty bucks for a full pizza but they have five for a slice and a drink so that’s how that started.” The restaurant also maintains a BYOB policy.
The name Inferno came about while the owners were brainstorming with their two children. Eventually, Mrs. Hovis stumbled upon the name and Inferno was created. She explains, “Those ovens are the key. They’re different from how everyone else around here cooks. They’re authentic true brick ovens. They’re like this inferno of an oven.” She added, “Everyone agreed that was it. We all went around shouting ‘Inferno! Inferno! Inferno!’ We love it.”
Their most popular pizza both by the slice and by the whole pie is the Mediterranean. “We’re contemplating expanding the menu ever so slightly,” Mrs. Hovis said, “We are a pizzeria…you don’t go for Chinese looking to order a cheeseburger or up to Bob’s Subs looking for a slice of pizza…we’re not an Italian restaurant we’re a high end pizza place.” The pizzeria is also looking into adding a delivery option.
La Famiglia Pizza and Pasta House, Rock N Yogurt, and Inferno Pizzeria LLC all have seating options and want to bring people out to Main Street. “We’re hoping to really pull students and get them downtown,” Hovis explains, “We wanted to make a place where you wanted to come.” Boring also stated, “Even if we’re getting ready to close we’ll let them [customers] stay while we clean up. We don’t kick anyone out.”