Hot Italian, the popular midtown pizzeria, is opening a second location, entering the highly competitive Bay Area market.
It is expected to open in early spring in an Emeryville shopping center called the Public Market. The center is in the midst of a major renovation by TMG Partners out of San Francisco and it will be anchored by Urban Outfitters, Guitar Center, an artist collective, Peet's Coffee, along with Hot Italian in a 3,000 square-foot space (pictured here) - which is about half the size of the Sacramento location.
"It's a longtime coming," said Andrea Lepore, who partnered with Fabrizio Cercatore to start the business about three years ago. The plan was always to have multiple locations.
The two restaurateurs will be doing plenty of back-and-forth travel in the weeks ahead as they oversee the many facets of opening a new restaurant.
They will host a job fair Saturday. Lepore says there are openings for shift leaders, servers, and various kitchen positions. A job fair last Tuesday in Sacramento attracted 300 applicants - a sign of the times, perhaps. People are looking for a job --- or a second or third job.
Asked how Hot Italian will stack up to the competition in the Bay Area, Lepore said, "We've tried all the pizza places down there and think they're all great. Fabrizio was born and raised in Italy and has been doing this his entire adult life. He is the maestro pizzaiolo. It will be fun. It's a great market and people there really appreciate good food."
Folks in Sacramento appreciate good food, too. Business has been excellent at Hot Italian, even in this dreary economy.
"Sacramento has been awesome. We have so many repeat customers. We couldn't have done this expansion without that. It's really a testament to the support that we've gotten here," Lepore added.
Expect the new restaurant to have the same style as the Sacramento place - black and white, with plenty of cool touches, from the Illy coffee can lights to the giant fan from Bigassfans.com. The bike racks out front are the best in town, practically pieces of functional sculpture.
Sacramento's talented Mike Whisten of 12M Metal & Woodworks, will be doing plenty of work on the inside of the new restaurant. Many of his creative touches are featured at the first location, including the round communal table made of reclaimed wood, and the wood storage units affixed to the walls. Whisten has also done work for restaurants like Press Bistro and coffee shops like Old Soul at the Weatherstone.
Blair Anthony Robertson is The Bee's restaurant critic. Follow him on Twittter, @blarob.