Pizza gamble pays off with second outlet

Dan Di Cocco and Kerry Kulak, owners of the new Rondo`s Pizza Plus on Rosedale Avenue. Cathy Dobson

Cathy Dobson

A month after opening the takeout pizzeria Rondo’s Pizza Plus on Rosedale, co-owners Dan Di Cocco and Kerry Kulak are thinking of expansion.

“We weren’t expecting to be this busy so soon,” said Kulak, Di Cocco’s fiancé.

In fact, Rondo’s on Rosedale has already reached financial targets set for nine months down the road.

“We had one guy order eight times in one week.  It’s just been unbelievable,” said Di Cocco.

In 2012, he purchased Rondo’s Pizza Plus on Lakeshore Road in Bright’s Grove. At the time, he had no restaurant experience, having worked 18 years in the trades.

“I wanted to make a career change and this opportunity came along to purchase Rondo’s. I took a gamble – it was the biggest gamble of my life,” he said.

“I’d never worked in a restaurant in my life but I come from a family of good cooks and we’ve been really successful.”

Rondo’s in Bright’s Grove is an eat-in, licensed restaurant with regular live entertainment, specializing in gourmet, artisan and customized pizzas.

Di Cocco said he quickly recognized that pizza delivery outside the Bright’s Grove area meant an inferior product.

“We make a very good quality pizza and it needs to be delivered quickly to be at its best,” he said. “The drive into Sarnia meant it wasn’t as good as it should be.”

He and Kulak scouted around for a solution and on May 1 Rondo’s second location at 780 Rosedale Ave opened, creating seven new full-time and part-time jobs.  There’s no seating, with takeout and delivery service only. The menu offers most items of main restaurant but no artisan pizzas. Delivery at peak periods takes 45 minutes or less.

Demand has been so high the couple is considering expanding into an empty storefront next door, punching a hole through the wall and opening a neighbourhood bar and eatery.  That will only be possible if the city’s parking requirements can be met, Di Cocco said.

Rondo’s on Rosedale sells gourmet pizzas ranging in price from$23.95 to $32.95.  A large one-item pizza costs $14.99 and is particularly popular among families with kids to feed.

Hours are Sunday to Wednesday 3 p.m. – 10 p.m. and Thursday to Saturday 3 p.m. – 11 p.m.  Call 519-491-1313 and check out the menu at www.rondospizzaplus.com.

MOONLIGHT FARMERS’ MARKET BACK

After a strong inaugural season in 2015, the farmers’ market under the bridge in Point Edward has returned, thanks to the efforts of the Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation.

The market runs Thursdays from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. along the service road near Michigan Avenue.  At least 15 vendors are out each week.  New this year is Alton Farms Estate Winery and a number of local artisans.

Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy Dobson at cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca or 226-932-0985.