Italian Pie coming to LaPlace

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 11, 2005


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE — Being a part of a growing community has its perks, like seeing new restaurants pop up around corners, giving area resident’s new alternatives to lunch and dinner.

The Original Italian Pie was founded in 1992 by Musa Ulusan and his wife, Fatima, when they opened the first restaurant on Bienville Street in New Orleans. In 1996, Serdar Tiglioglu became partner to the Ulusans and controller. The following year Tom Cangemi, CEO of Ruth’s Chris’ Steakhouse and Dobbs House, came on board as Partner/CEO of the Italian Pie. As the business grew, several locations opened up in the New Orleans area, according to the Original Italian Pie official website.

Since then, franchise restaurants have been booming all over southeastern United States and now in LaPlace.

Three partners from Dredging Supply Company in Reserve, Albert Courcelle III (CFO), Bob Wetta (VP, Marketing/Sales) and William J. Wetta II (President/CEO), came up with the idea during conversation and tossing around ideas one day.

“Billy and I were talking one day and he was like you know we need an Italian Pie here,” Courcelle said. “We just agreed and went on, but about six months later, I came back and asked him if he was serious about what he said, because I wanted to bring something new to LaPlace, so we went from there.”

Courcelle said he started by calling around to other local franchises, but did not have the best of luck.

“I contacted several other local franchises,” Courcelle said. “They kept telling me nothing was available for a franchise, because all the territories were taken and none of them were to be located in LaPlace. Finally, after several calls to Italian Pies, I met with Tom Cangemi for about five hours. Then, corporate decided to take at look at us and we had to convince them we were the best people for this project. Julia Remondet was extremely helpful in the whole process.”

Courcelle became President of the Italian Pie franchise in LaPlace and decided Belle Terre was a nice location.

“We are in a two-territory agreement,” Courcelle said. “We will have the one in LaPlace first, and then we will build in Hammond.”

The LaPlace location will be supervised under General Manager John Bull and Assistant GM Chris Brayden.

“I knew John from college at LSU,” Courcelle said. “He has been in restaurant management around 15 years. It is sort of funny how Chris came into the picture, because he had originally applied for a project manager position at Dredging Supply, but when I saw his resume I noticed he had worked at the Sho-Gun restaurant in Metairie for five years. We then thought he would be great for the assistant general manager position instead.”

Construction of the new restaurant started in early June of this year and will be completed for opening around Sept. 19, which is the Monday after weekend training is completed, according to Courcelle.

“We have an extensive Italian menu,” said GM John Bull. “There will be gourmet pasta, salads, pizza and even a new light choices menu, featuring low-carb items. Our dough is homemade fresh twice daily and sauces as needed. ”

NB Interiors, the same design company used for WOW Café and Wingery in LaPlace, designed the Italian Pie, which is a 5,500 sq.ft. building located at 405 Belle Terre Blvd Suite A and will seat 96 people.

“We decided to go with the same person, because we loved her style and what she did with WOW,” Courcelle said. “She decided to go with a fun, yet casual atmosphere, which is what we wanted. We want to target families and she did a great job in capturing the feel we were going for. We love the colors.”

The colors will be warm with varieties of soft primary colors such as reds, yellows and blues, blended with oranges, greens and earth tones creating an inviting atmosphere.

There are many reasons to try this restaurant when it opens and Courcelle highlights a few to consider.

“The food quality,” Courcelle said. “The portions are huge. I have never eaten at an Italian Pie and not leave without a to-go box. Another reason is its affordable and we offer dine-in, take-out, delivery and catering, but above all, service is the top reason to try the Italian Pie. We strive to make our service the best. We want to treat our customers the best we possibly can.”

Bull said they will also be participating in a Food For Thought Program with area schools, where honor roll students will receive gift certificates to the restaurant.

The Italian Pie will hold interviews from Aug. 22-26 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“Anyone interested in encouraged to apply,” Courcelle said. “Most of the positions are for ages 18 and up, but if you are at least 16, there may be a position available.”

The Italian Pie will be open seven days a week, Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“It is neat to go places and hear people talking about it,” Courcelle said. “I was eating out one night and overheard a lady talking and she said, ‘Did you hear they were opening an Italian Pie?’ It was so cool!”