Ryan Kneller / The Morning Call –
Like spring flowers, mom-and-pop pizza shops have been blossoming in the Lehigh Valley in recent months.
The latest addition is Suzanna’s, which opened May 29 at 2918 William Penn Highway in Palmer Township. The 35-seat restaurant joins the area’s growing list of independently owned pizza venues that includes other recent additions The Crust in Hanover Township, Northampton County, and Villa Grande Pizzeria Restaurant in Bath.
“First, people are much more aware about buying local,” he said. “Second, the build-your-own pizza concept is taking hold with people a little more concerned about choosing certain ingredients such as whole wheat bread, low-fat cheese and gluten-free items. Some regional chains have caught on to this, but no national chain has gone the way of Five Guys or Chipotle yet. They’re all about price, not quality.”
Suzanna’s is a revival of Jozanna’s, which husband and wife co-owners Joe and Suzanna Cottrell operated as a catering and takeout business at 4198 William Penn Highway in Bethlehem Township for nearly 10 years.
The Bethlehem Township couple decided they wanted more room for dining, so they closed Jozanna’s in January and spent three months renovating their new, larger space (a former salon). They plan to introduce a private party/overflow dining area when they expand into the space next door in about a month.
The Cottrells also changed the business’ name to avoid confusion with a New Jersey restaurant named Jozanna’s, which the couple used to own.
A menu of pizza, pasta and subs has mostly remained the same and catering still plays a major role in the counter-service business. Popular selections include eggplant parmesan, lasagna and penne vodka. Info: 610-438-2290.
Two other pizza places that have debuted recently include The Crust at 3350 Schoenersville Road (former Pasta Ria spot) on May 6 and Villa Grande at 225 W. Northampton St. (former Fortunatos space) in late January.
The Crust, co-owned by brothers Mike and Andy Chan of Lower Macungie Township, labels its offerings “the most unique pizza in the Lehigh Valley.”
Popular pies include barbecue pulled pork and General Tso’s chicken. A wide variety of pastas, paninis, salads and other items round out the menu.
The 35-seat, BYOB restaurant offers catering, takeout and free delivery. Info: 610-625-0388 or thecrustpizzeria.net.
Villa Grande is owned by Bath residents Jimmy Tomini and his sons, Rinor and Alfani.
Jimmy operated Pasta Ria (current location of The Crust) for about three years before closing it in December due to increased rent. Before that venture, he ran a restaurant on Long Island for about 30 years.
According to Rinor, the 50-seat Villa Grande uses 45-year-old recipes when making its pizzas, calzones, strombolis and entrees. Paninis and burgers are served on homemade bread.
The BYOB eatery features daily specials, as well as delivery, takeout and catering. Info: 484-281-3634 or villagpizza.com.
Further proof of the area’s thriving mom-and-pop pizza shops can be found in the upcoming relocation of two veteran establishments to larger spaces.
In Allentown, Ray’s Pizza will move from its location of 24 years at 1424 Pennsylvania Ave. to the former George’s Galaxy Diner at 1022 Union Blvd. in mid-July.
The menu will remain the same and six packs of beer will still be sold, owner Ray Koxha said. Info: 610-974-8786.
In Bethlehem, Westgate Pizza at the Westgate Mall will move from its location of 42 years (near Rite-Aid) to a larger space in the center of the mall (near GNC) in about a month.
The move will double the eatery’s seating capacity from 40 to more than 80, said Dominic Coppola, who co-owns the business with his wife, Assunta. It also will bring an expanded menu of pizza, sandwiches and dinners. Info: 610-865-1393.
New Bethlehem pizza joints that I’ve already written about include The Bethlehem Parlour, Little Italy on Main and The Brick.
OK, now that I’ve made you hungry for a slice of Sicilian, thin crust or whatever your favorite type of pizza may be, let me wrap up this tasty talk with an upcoming chain opening.
Little Caesars is set to open at 120 S. West End Blvd. in Quakertown in early July, according to franchisee Richard Loz.
Loz also operates other locations in Allentown, Emmaus and Wilson. Info: littlecaesars.com.
Moving on to non-pizza news, Weis Markets announced it will offer online shopping with in-store pickup at its Fogelsville store beginning June 8.
The shopping method allows customers to order online at weismarkets.com/onlineshopping and pay through PayPal or at the store with curbside checkout.
Each order is handpicked by trained personal shoppers and then carefully stored until pickup. Customers can use their Weis Preferred Shopper’s cards and coupons.
“Weis Online Shopping offers our customers the best of both worlds: the in-store shopping experience with online convenience,” said Weis Markets’ Chief Operating Officer Kurt Schertle, who labels the method great for families with small children, individuals with mobility issues, and others who don’t have the time or ability to shop.
Online shopping is now offered at 17 Weis locations, including those in Bethlehem and Dorneyville.
Retail Watchers looking to make some hefty home improvements or just brighten up their living spaces should take note of Colonial Electric Supply in Allentown.
The King of Prussia-based company opened its 25th counter location about a month ago following the acquisition of Lighting Fixture & Supply, a business that served the Lehigh Valley for more than 50 years at 1033 Sumner Ave. in Allentown.
Colonial sells to anyone in need of electrical products, including contractors and homeowners. The Allentown location also offers a showroom, displaying everything from landscape lighting to decorative chandeliers. Info: 610-435-9691 or colonialelectric.com.
Thanks to Retail Watcher Vera Deacon of Springfield Township, Bucks County, I learned that The Eatery 309 at 157 S. West End Blvd. in Quakertown reopened under new management on April 28.
The eatery originally opened in September and housed three businesses: Burrito Boy, Pita Girl and YoYum Frozen Yogurt. It temporarily closed over the winter due to sluggish sales and bad weather.
Its new lineup still includes Pita Girl and YoYum, but the Tex-Mex-influenced Burrito Boy has been replaced with Zorro’s Mexican Grill.
Terry and Lucy Sheffer and their son, Ryan Sheffer, have taken over operational control from Austin Sedicum, who remains a business partner. The couple formerly ran Casa Toro in Coopersburg and El Cactus in Souderton.
According to Ryan Sheffer, Zorro’s offers the same recipes from the family’s previous establishments, but it uses fresher ingredients such as kale, lettuce and spinach from the family’s Obed’s Farm in Bedminster Township. Info: 215-536-5013 or zorrosmexicangrill.com.
Many Retail Watchers, including Joan Bray, have inquired about the status of the Spring Valley Inn (soon to be named Spring Valley Tavern) at 1355 Station Ave. in Upper Saucon Township.
New owners have been renovating the building since January 2013 and an update that I provided in December had the business, closed since 2008, tentatively scheduled to reopen in early spring.
According to co-owner Kim McCartney of Sewell, N.J., the business just passed its final building inspection and should be serving guests by the end of this month.
She said the remaining to-do list includes passing a couple of other inspections, training employees and implementing decorative details such as hanging window treatments and renetting the gazebo.
I’ll finish with a couple of technology tidbits.
First, a Verizon kiosk selling cellphones and accessories opened in early April at The Outlets at Sands Bethlehem.
Second, Digital Feast, offering video production, photography and Web and graphic design, among other services, held a grand opening May 8 on the fifth floor of the Butz Corporate Center at 840 W. Hamilton St. in Allentown. Info: digitalfeast.net.