Quick-service Italian cuisine is moving out of the mall food court and onto North High Street with the opening of Sbarro’s new location near campus.
“As students have grown up to know Sbarro by the slice, they get to expect the same quality product that they had in the food court,” said Mike Abusway, director of operations at Sbarro.
The opening of the new store, which took the place of J. Gumbo’s Cajun and Creole restaurant at 1990 N. High St., follows the opening of the Italian chain’s first standalone restaurant in Clintonville in October.
The new locations are just one aspect of the Columbus-based company’s rebranding efforts announced in a September press release. Other changes include an expanded menu, as well as delivery and carryout services.
“We have introduced new menu items that we don’t have in our food courts,” Abusway said. “The advantage that the students have is that they get to experience more of the expanded menu that we have taken for off-mall, which includes fresh-made subs, cheesy breads, whole strombolis served with our hot pomodoro sauce and salads that are made fresh every single day.”
Originally founded in 1956, Sbarro currently operates more than 800 locations in 33 countries, according to the company’s website. With the opening of the High Street store, Abusway said, Sbarro hopes to welcome members of the Ohio State community through its doors.
“We celebrate our 60th anniversary this year. It is something that we take very, very seriously when it comes to the quality of the product,” he said. “This is our first week with (OSU students) coming back, so we’re learning what the traffic patterns are going to be, and we are making adjustments for them.”
The High Street Sbarro plans to celebrate the opening of its new store with a grand opening event on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Abusway said.
“We have invited everyone to come out and join us … for ‘Snag a Slice,’ where students have the opportunity to win free pizza for (a year) … free Sbarro gear (and) free slices of pizza,” he said.
Jimmy Barouxis, the third-generation owner of Buckeye Donuts who owns the space Sbarro now occupies, said he thinks the location will be a success for the company.
“I love them. I had J. Gumbo’s there before and they weren’t doing so hot, and these guys are way more hands-on owners,” he said. “Good hands-on management, competent people in there running the show, and I think they are going to last a long time.”
Barouxis added that he thinks Sbarro’s business model will especially appeal to the collegiate audience.
“There’s always room for a pizza shop on campus that sells pizza by the slice. There’s not a lot of places doing it by the slice anymore, so that’s a good location for them, I believe,” he said. “I wish them luck. I think they’re going to do good.”
Sbarro is open for both walk-in and delivery orders from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10:30 to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday.
Correction: Jan. 21, 2016
Due to incorrect information provided by Sbarro, an earlier version of this article stated that students can enter a competition for free pizza for life. In fact, the competition is for free pizza for a year.