Dining With Denise Neil

A behind-the-scenes look at Angelo’s crazy first two weeks

2016: Angelo’s reopens in Wichita

One of Wichita's favorite Italian restaurants is back, and people are willing to wait as long as it takes to taste its food again. Video by Denise Neil / March 24, 2016
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One of Wichita's favorite Italian restaurants is back, and people are willing to wait as long as it takes to taste its food again. Video by Denise Neil / March 24, 2016

It’s been almost two weeks since the new Angelo’s at 5231 E. Central opened its doors to long lines and nostalgic pizza fans.

They’ve been two weeks of total frenzy for owners Jack Fasciano and his daughter, Gina Fasciano-Hogan. They knew people were excited about the restaurant’s return, but they didn’t know they were excited enough to stand in four-hour lines and clean the place out of pizza, lasagna, sausage manicotti and salad for days and days.

Don’t panic – the four-hour waits are no more. The Angelo’s crew has fine-tuned operations to the point that people who call their orders in ahead don’t have to wait at all. Walk-ins can usually get hot pizza in 30 minutes. The improvements are encouraging to the owners, who think they might be able to add lunch service in their small dining room in two weeks or so.

So far, the Facianos have been selling only take-and-bake or hot to-go versions of their pizza and pasta favorites. The next step is to start dine-in lunch service, then dinner.

Jack Fasciano said he’s been surprised by the level of enthusiasm his customers have shown so far.

One of Wichita's favorite Italian restaurants is back, and people are willing to wait as long as it takes to taste its food again. Video by Denise Neil / March 24, 2016

“I underestimated the fervor that we created with this community project,” he said. “It was awesome – four hour waiting lines. I walked out to the end of the line and I asked people how long they had been waiting, and one man said, ‘I’ve been waiting four hours.’ And I said, ‘I’m sorry, but if it was me, I wouldn’t want to wait,’ and he said, ‘I would for an Angelo’s pizza.’”

The first four days of business, Angelo’s sold out of all of its stock in two hours. Now that they know what to expect, they’re able to keep serving until close, but the oven will only accommodate so many pizzas and staff members are still learning their roles. They’ve been taking nonstop orders over the phone and giving people a pick-up time to cut down their in-store waits.

For now, the best thing to do is call right when Angelo’s opens, place an order and get a pickup time. If you just walk in, you’ll likely wait at least 30 minutes to get your food. You can sit in the not-yet-open dining room while you wait, though, and listen as customer after customer comes in and shares stories and memories about the old Angelo’s.

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. Son Jack took over the businesses, but the last remaining location at 1930 S. Oliver closed in July 2006.

Last year, Fasciano launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to move his take-and-bake business, which he’d been operating for years out of his home, to a storefront location. Rallying dedicated fans, he was able to raise $40,000, which he used as collateral to secure loans to open the business. He promised pizza and merchandise rewards to people who pledged, but only a few have come in to collect so far, Fasciano said. He figures they’re waiting until business slows down to give him a break.

Angelo’s is open for take-and-bake and to-go sales from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Call 316-612-9058 to place an order.

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