Russo’s, an internationally known Italian restaurant, is scouting locations in Odessa and at least one is downtown, but a second location is possible, said CEO Anthony Russo.
Russo has been in the restaurant business for a long time, as his parents started their first restaurant in 1978.
“I grew up in the business, everything we made was from scratch and when I was 17 I decided to open up my own restaurant,” Russo said about his origins. “I opened up my first pizzeria because I wanted something a little more casual than my parents restaurant and that was my dream. But we did the same things, we made everything from scratch and that is how the business model was created.”
By 1988 Russo had three pizzerias in Clear Lake, Texas and in 1992 he began franchising his business.
“When we started franchising it really took off and sales were great,” Russo said about the early years. “It was casual dining with more than just pizza; we serve authentic pasta, chicken and all kinds of, fresh Italian dishes.”
To continue growing Russo and his company are looking to spread their authentic cuisine to the West Texas region eyeing Odessa as the next possible landing spot for the restaurant.
“It is a growing economy out in Odessa and over the past few years we have noticed the demographic has been changing,” said Russo about Odessa and the decision for another location. “It is a growing area and with the oil production there, families are coming in, neighborhoods are changing, and it’s a family concept so we thought it was perfect timing.”
One of the areas being scouted by the Russo’s franchise is the downtown area where eateries are limited, but Arleene Loyd, director of business retention and expansion for the Odessa Chamber of Commerce says many entities have been trying to encourage businesses to come to the downtown area.
“The city of Odessa and Main Street Odessa are trying to encourage business to come to the downtown area and for the people who work downtown; they really love the restaurants in the area,” Loyd said. “With traffic they way it is, it’s hard to grab a quick lunch so to be able to stay downtown and get lunch or even walk to lunch is really nice. It encourages development in the area but it also improves the quality of life for the community.”
The company is looking at possibly opening two locations however; Russo said there is still plenty to be done before that is decided but looks forward to adding to an already booming economy here in Odessa.
“We support the local economy and we want to create local jobs and be able to do everything in house, the restaurant will create about 35 to 40 jobs in Odessa and we are always proud of our employees,” Russo said.. “Once we find a location it could be within six months to be built but right now we are trying to identify good franchisees and once we get that done we go look at sites. Downtown is just one of the areas but we know there is growth there but we still want to do a real-estate survey and see what will be best for the franchise.”
Despite not having a guaranteed franchisee or set location yet, Russo is confident his restaurant will stand above other Italian food options around the area.
Russo’s is looking to break into the Odessa market this year and Anthony Russo says people are calling for the type of experience his restaurant brings.
“It is an authentic family recipe and everything is made fresh and stepping in the store you know everything is fresh and homemade,” Russo said.
Contact Jared Wilson at 432-333-7786