Dining with Denise: A Wichita gas station pizza tour
When Angelo’s Italian Restaurant made its glorious return to the Wichita dining scene in March 2016, it did so on a budget. That meant that its owners had to work with the space they had in the end-cap of a strip center at 5231 E. Central.
Their cozy dining room was relatively small, seating only about 50 people. But as they’ve learned since, Wichita loves Angelo’s with a fervor that exceeds a 50-person seating limit.
Now, owners Jack Fasicano and his daughter, Gina Fasciano Hogan, are about to solve that problem. They’re expanding Angelo’s into the space directly to the east, which previously held an American Family Insurance Office, and will be able to add about 950 square feet.
“The main problem is we can’t handle families and large groups,” Jack said.
The owners are still working with the city to determine exactly how many seats they can add, but Jack said they’re hoping for 35.
He’s also hoping to get permission from the city to elevate his outdoor sign and add Angelo’s famous and recognizable lion mascot to it, but he’s less hopeful that that plan will clear the city.
The addition will be fairly simple, he said. They just have to knock out part of a wall to adjoin the spaces, replace flooring and paint the walls. His goal is to have it ready within a month.
Jack Fasciano’s parents, Angelo and Anna, got their start making pizzas out of the basement of their house in the late 1950s. Sicilian-born Angelo, who worked at Boeing, opened a small restaurant on South Laura in 1960. The family moved the restaurant to a building near Harry and Hillside in 1961, then moved to a location across the street in 1976.
Angelo’s was known for its distinct pizzas, salads with pickled eggplant and homey pasta dishes. At one point, five Angelo’s were operating across the city. The family also had restaurants in Andover, Hutchinson and Tulsa.
Anna Fasciano died of complications from diabetes in March 2004. Angelo died a year later, in March 2005. Jack took over the businesses, but the last remaining location at 1930 S. Oliver closed in July 2006. In 2016, with the help of $40,000 raised during a a Kickstarter campaign, dedicated customers helped the Fascianos reopen. Their first few weeks of business were crazy, sometimes inspiring four-hour waits. It’s calmed down since then, Fasciano said, but business is still good.
“It’s gone even better than we expected,” he said. “And it’s still growing.”