When the family-owned House of Pizza closed for renovations over the summer, the sign in the window said “See You Soon.”
Not so fast: The renovations, including expanding the kitchen, updating the dining area and adding a room at the front for takeout orders, has turned out to take a lot longer than expected, says Samantha Kakavitsa. Originally expected to be finished by the end of the summer, she says they now hope to be finished by mid-November.
“Renovations have been a little stressful,” she says. “We’ve never done anything like this before.”
After the demolition started, they learned they had the wrong permits and had to stop to straighten that out. They’re expanding the kitchen to make room, which also meant taking out a back wall to move the walk-in refrigerator that used to be right in the middle.
House of Pizza opened in 1978 in a building that was already on the site. While someone else owns the land, the business is owned by Samantha Kakavitsa’s father, Nick Kakavitsas (his last name has an extra “s,” a Greek tradition) and her aunts, Maria Kakavitsa and Helen Mitsios.
Samantha Kakavitsa, 29, says the renovations were long overdue. But they’re trying to improve the restaurant and make it operate more efficiently, particularly for take-out, which is 50 percent of their business. They’re also trying to keep it true to the way it was. House of Pizza is known for its subs, particularly its version of a Philadelphia cheesesteak, as much as it is for pizza.
“Me and my whole family, we all agree we don’t want to lose that old-timey feel we’re known for. It will be spruced up a little, but I hope that old-time feeling is still there.”
She says everyone in the family has been hounded by questions about when the renovation will finally be done. In addition to House of Pizza, Kakavitsa also works at Central Coffee, where she runs into a lot of the regulars.
“Every day at work, I have people hounding me, ‘when are you going to open? I’m waiting for my bacon sub.’ I’m like, ‘Me too! I’m hungry.’ It’s a daily thing. It’s flattering.”