Couple expands on pizza offerings at Whitey's
In just a few short years, Whitey's Peetza & Eatery has been able to carve out a niche that sets it apart from the stereotypical image of the average pizza parlor. The restaurant's success has come as no surprise to its owners, husband-and-wife team Steve and Megan White.
When the Whites bought a shuttered pizza shop in Coral, their intention was to create a “destination spot.” It was 2010, the height of “The Great Recession,” so naysayers, who know the discouraging statistics of restaurant survival even in good times, saw the uncertainty in the endeavor.
“Honestly, that wasn't even on my radar,” Steve White said. “My wife and I just wanted to get into it, work the business and allow it to do what it could do, and what it's done in the last three years was grow from 25 seats to 220.”
White, in fact, believes the business is stronger because it was launched during hard times. Now that there is an uptick in the economy, the hard lessons he's learned have helped to improve his bottom line.
The village of Coral, located south of Homer City, wouldn't normally be considered a hot spot for dining. But the community can be quickly accessed from nearby Route 119, and White, with a background in real estate, knows the significance of the old phrase “location, location, location,”
With good signage directing potential patrons from the four-lane highway, where PennDot says more than 10,000 motorists travel daily, Whitey's funnels off new quick-stoppers everyday. At the same time, the Whites are continuing to cultivate a growing following of loyal regulars at the quaint spot.
Making it a point to be visible, the Whites visit tables to ensure their customers are satisfied, comfortable and well-served. “Every day, I meet new people. They're from all over — Punxy, Latrobe, Greensburg, Ligonier, you name it,” Steve White noted.
Starting out with a business plan they developed with the help of Indiana University of Pennsylvania's Small Business Development Center, the Whites shopped around for financing to purchase the small pizza shop and attendant liquor license and to start initial renovations. The immediate result was a one-room pizza and sandwich shop with limited seating and take-out orders.
“It was basically my idea and something I really wanted to do, and my wife is just very supportive and along for the ride,” Steve White said of the family's business venture. “We both put in long hours at our other jobs, but one of us is always (at the restaurant).”
Attention to detail and cleanliness and elimination of waste have been the three main ingredients in the eatery's success, White explained. Then, when the business called for growth over the course of three years, the Whites reinvested.
Today, three years and $350,000 later, Whitey's Peetza & Eatery is a full-blown restaurant with an executive chef, three separate dining areas, an expanded banquet room, a 1,400-square-foot tap room with a fully stocked bar, outdoor dining areas and a menu that ranges from pizza and sandwiches to filet mignon. There is also an entire array of gluten-free options.
“We've encouraged our chef (Nate Cobaugh) and staff to think outside the box to create dishes and weekly specials, to improve the customer's experience and to go with the times,” Steve White said.
Keeping with the times, the restaurant features modern software and a point-of-sale system that helps monitor such factors as product and waste and a cost analysis to give insight into managing payroll.
In addition, Whitey's has cultivated a website and connected with its customer base through social networking for marketing and online ordering. “We also have over 5,000 elite Diners Club members that we text and communicate regularly with,” said White.
Multiple reviews of Whitey's have been posted on various websites, and the owners also keep close tabs on their own Facebook page.
The online reviews and feedback can be considered a sign that the establishment is developing into the “destination spot” that White dreamed of. Reviewers hail from spots scattered across the state, as well as from Rochester and Buffalo, N.Y.
“I love it when people come in expecting a little, rundown pizza joint, and they come in and see the place and our menu. I'm not kidding when I say their eyes light up,” said a proud Steve White. “We've come a long way with the place already, and I still have ideas that may or may not pan out. The thing is you've got to wait and see and then strike when the opportunity is right.”
Spencer Sadler is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Lighting cost reduced for United High School project
- Blairsville-Saltsburg considers options for pending food service vacancy
- Candidates for 62nd District House seat air clashing views on state tax revenues
- Armagh artist gets posthumous showcase at Indiana museum
- Burrell supervisors earmark funding for water extension
- Indiana County receives donation for new veterans transport van
- Blairsville eyes extended trail routes
- Old school days recalled at Keith reunion on IUP campus