The Dish: Fat Angelo’s Pizzeria
- By Jessica Vozel For the Herald-Standard
Fat Angelo’s Pizzeria in Lemont Furnace is now owned by Thomas Richards. Richards and his daughter, Tepanga Richards, are pictured at the pizzeria. The father and daughter duo from Uniontown are working together to produce delectable pizzas in this new business venture.
When Thomas Richards decided to purchase Fat Angelo’s Pizzeria in Lemont Furnace three weeks ago, he had two goals in mind: spend more time with his teenage daughter, Tepanga, and get the word out about Fat Angelo’s, which for years remained a hidden gem on Connellsville Street.
“We were getting ready to move to Florida, and then the restaurant came available,” said Richards. “My daughter talked me into buying it. My plan when I took over was to make enough to pay the bills, to break even, and be there for my daughter.”
As a single father and former truck driver, Richards hated leaving his daughter during long stretches of being on the road. Fat Angelo’s presented the perfect opportunity to try something new, while bringing his daughter on board to help out. Richards said his new restaurant will give Tepanga a place to work throughout high school, and a place for her friends to work, too.
Right away, Richards began implementing new marketing strategies to let people know about the delicious Italian food and relaxed atmosphere at Fat Angelo’s. He made a Facebook page to advertise specials and new recipes, encouraged friends and guests to leave reviews online, and took boxes of Fat Angelo’s soft and delicious cinnamon buns to local businesses, along with a delivery menu and a gentle nudge to consider Fat Angelo’s for their workday lunches.
“We just really want to make sure that people know we’re here,” said Richards.
Helping him out along the way was Bob Cochran, the retired former owner of Fat Angelo’s. “He’s been very helpful. We get together and brainstorm ideas for different sandwiches. He really wants to see the restaurant do well,” said Richards.
So far, Cochran — and Richards — are getting their wish. Since Richards purchased Fat Angelo’s, he’s seen increased business every single week through a combination of word-of-mouth and some popular new dishes, like barbecue pulled pork pizza, Tuscan chicken pizza, and stuffed steak pizza. Served alongside these unique choices are longtime favorites like the Italian steak and cheese hoagie and the Hawaiian chicken salad with smoked ham, bacon and pineapple.
“The phone’s been ringing off the hook,” said Richards, who adds that he’s already planning to expand the dining room to accommodate double the number of patrons, since they’re often filled up on weekends.
Another marketing strategy has been to issue a challenge to pizza lovers with hearty appetites: come to the restaurant and finish Fat Angelo’s “The Beast” pizza — a 30-inch, 48-slice pie made with 60 ounces of dough — in less than one hour, and the $35 pizza is on the house. Those who complete the challenge also get a T-shirt and the chance to watch Richards literally eat the slip on which the order was written.
Ronnie Smith of Uniontown was the first to undertake the challenge. His only real strategy was to order a plain cheese pizza instead of adding volume with toppings.
As Richards set the timer for 60 minutes, Smith said, “I’m just going to close my eyes and hope for the best.”
In the end, Smith couldn’t finish the monster pizza, but he made a valiant effort, tearing through 19 of the 48 slices.
Fat Angelo’s offers delivery and carryout, as well as seating inside the restaurant. Richards is there nearly all day, every day, chatting with customers and having fun — one of the perks of the job, he said, adding, “I’m happy that it all just really came together for me and my daughter, and that we’re able to be here and do this.”