In his pursuit of the American Dream, a Miller Place man is bringing the unique combination of Chicago-style deep dish pizza and smoothies to the corner of the Hauppauge Industrial Park.
Kyle Markott, 33, has opened up Rigatoni's Pizza & Pasta in the corner site of Adams Ave food court in the Hauppauge Industrial Park. While Markott might be new to the Commack-Hauppauge area, he certainly knows his way around a pizzeria.
"I started when I was 14, working in my local pizzeria in Miller Place," Markott said, speaking of what's now La Casa Restaurant.
The new business owner worked his way up, starting out by serving slices and making pizza until he took over ownership of the restaurant.
Roughly five years ago, Markott said the former Italian Buffet in the Hauppauge Industrial Park caught his eyes as a potential business to buy and take over, but he decided against it. His interest in opening a Hauppauge restaurant was renewed upon learning Town of Smithtown was going to be relaxing the building limitations in the Hauppauge Industrial park.
Markott took a drive by the Adams Avenue food court to find out the much-awaited Amore Pizzeria whose signs had promised it was "coming soon" had backed out, and his ideal corner location was available for lease.
Building a business based on Hauppauge Industrial Park's commuter crowd has posed a challenge for Markott.
"It's the opposite of anything I have done in my career, and opposite of a normal restaurant," the owner said.
Rigatoni's Pizza & Pasta puts a special focus on its by-the-slice pizza options, recognizing a large portion of its customer based in the lunch rush. The pizzeria is open weekdays from 10:30 a.m. - 7 p.m., and closed Saturday and Sundays - typically two of the busiest days at most restaurants and pizzerias.
Markott has also tried something new, by adding a new type of slice to his menu.
"I have never done the deep-dish pizza, I never thought of it. It's proven to be a huge seller," he said.
Available in plain, meat lovers, chicken parmesan and eggplant, Markott said he's looking to purchase additional pans to have more deep-dish slices ready-to-go for customers.
In a unique twist, Markott has made the decision to sell smoothies alongside the pizza and pasta, calling them Rigatoni's Sweets. Customers can get a tropical or berry flavored yogurt drink.
"Originally I was going to try to split the store. I was approved to be a Tropical Smoothie franchise, but it turned out if we split it would have been too small," the business owner said.
So customers can order pizza, pasta dishes or smoothies at one stop. Markott said he plans to expand his offerings in the future by offering on-the-go options that area workers can take home for dinner and possibly gluten-free pizza.
For now, Markott plans to drum up business and bring a focus to catering events for the Hauppauge Industrial Park. He'll plans to do it the old-fashioned way, going door-to-door in the industrial park, handing out menus and cards for a free slice at Rigatoni's.