Former Angelo’s owner Jack Fasciano has a new plan to get his Italian food back onto the tables of his devoted fans, and he’s started a Kickstarter campaign so he can finance it.
Fasciano said he finally took the suggestions of several former customers and recently launched the campaign. Kickstarter is a website that allows people to attempt to raise money online for causes or projects.
As of Monday afternoon, Fasciano had raised a little more than $5,300 from 66 backers. His goal is to raise the $40,000 he says he would need to start a take-and-bake pizza business in a store front, preferably at some place like Normandie shopping center or in the Delano neighborhood, he said.
If Fasciano fails to meet the goal by March 18, all the money will go back to the people who donated it.
Fasciano, whose parents, Angelo and Anna, opened the original Angelo’s in the 1950s, grew up in his family’s restaurant business, which expanded to several Wichita locations over the years. Fasciano closed the last remaining Angelo’s at 1930 S. Oliver in July 2006, ending a 46-year run. But fans of the food have not stopped publicly missing it. Last year, Fasciano started a Facebook page called “Bring Angelo’s Back to Wichita,” which now has more than 2,100 members. Many wax poetically about the pizzas, baked lasagnas and pickled eggplant-topped Italian salads they still miss, nearly a decade later.
For several years, Fasciano has been preparing a long list of items from the restaurant’s former menu in his home kitchen and serving them, for a suggested donation, to customers. He’s been taking about 150 orders a month, he said, and he has customers who drive from as far away as Kansas City and Oklahoma City to pick the food up.
He’s outgrown his house, he said, and he doesn’t want to let the customers down. For $40,000, he figures, he can get a space with a walk-in freezer and a stove and start a traditional business.
“I’m overwhelmed,” he said. “I started cooking twice a month, and it was just a disaster. I couldn’t keep up with myself. Orders were overlapping.”
With the take-and-bake business, Fasciano said, he also would try to branch into e-commerce and sell his food online. Several of his daughter’s friends, who grew up eating Angelo’s and have scattered all over the country, frequently ask him to ship food to them.
“I think about a place I can operate five days a week and have some fresh stuff ready to be picked up, ready to cook from frozen,” he said. “It would be just like I’m doing now only expanded a little bit.”
If it worked out, Fasciano said, he would consider eventually opening a deli or little cafe.
People who donate to the Kickstarter campaign get rewards, ranging from token certificates to a free pizza a month for a year for those who donate $250 or more.
If he doesn’t meet his goal, Fasciano said, he’s not sure what he’ll do. But some sort of Angelo’s comeback seems inevitable, he said.
“I don’t see how the customers would leave me alone,” he said. “They’ve driven me out of retirement. I work harder now than I did 40 years ago.”
To see the Kickstarter page, follow the links on the Bring Back Angelo’s to Wichita Facebook page.