‘Powerhouse brands’

Published 3:10 pm Thursday, July 25, 2019

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Ground broken for LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria, Skyline Chili


The overcast weather didn’t stop residents from attending a groundbreaking Monday for Nicholasville’s soon-to-be home for two Cincinnati-based restaurants, LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria and Skyline Chili. 

The event took place at 10 a.m. at the restaurants’ future home, located at 350 E. Brannon Road. Both LaRosa’s and Skyline already have locations in Lexington, with an anticipated opening in Jessamine County scheduled for winter of 2019 or 2020.

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“We’re happy for Lexington because you are now benefiting from Cincinnati’s two powerhouse brands,” said Michael LaRosa, CEO of LaRosa’s. 

LaRosa’s was founded by Michael’s father, Buddy LaRosa, in 1954 on Cincinnati’s west side and Skyline Chili was founded in 1949. LaRosa’s now has 64 pizzerias in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee, and Skyline has its products in more than 130 restaurants and thousands of grocery stores. Michael said both brands strive to please.

“We understand what it takes to please our guests and our families, young and old,” Michael said. “I mean, our mission every day is to bring smiles to the guests that come to our door.” 

Gary Holland, CEO of One Holland Corporation, a franchisee for LaRosa’s, Skyline and First Watch, said he’s excited for the new Nicholasville location. 

“We have received a warm welcome from everyone in Central Kentucky by opening our first Skyline down here and our first LaRosa’s, and now we get the chance to continue that development and bring it to Nicholasville, which we consider to be a major player in the expansion of Lexington moving forward,” Holland said. “As Lexington grows, it seems to be growing south, and this is the epicenter of that growth.”

The Nicholasville LaRosa’s location will offer dine-in, pick-up and delivery of its pizzas and other Italian products and will have a dining room with a 160-person capacity.

Nicholasville’s Skyline will sell its chili, Coneys and Ways, and will seat 96 customers and come equipped with a drive-thru window.

During the groundbreaking, Holland presented a $1,000 check to The Hope Center, a nonprofit organization. The Hope Center’s Director of Development Carrie Thayer said the center aims to address underlying causes of homelessness and serves over 800 people per day. She said she is thrilled The Hope Center is partners with Skyline and LaRosa’s. 

“With their help, we’re helping our clients overcome addiction and mental health issues and homelessness, and we also help homeless veterans, so it’s a great partnership,” Thayer said.

At the end of the groundbreaking event, Buddy LaRosa blessed the ground with LaRosa’s secret sauce.

He said it’s called a secret sauce because it’s made from tomatoes from a location that receives a certain amount of rainfall.

The sauce, he said, is made with love, care and attention and has been with his family for almost 80 years.

Buddy spooned the sauce out of a large metal pot, which he said has been in his family for 75 years but is younger than him, as he will turn 89 next month. He asked Michael and LaRosa’s president Mark LaRosa to hold the pot as he blessed the ground with the sauce.

“Will you hold this for me, like we’re doing benediction?” he asked them, and the crowd laughed. 

With a metal ladle, Buddy spilled the sauce into the shape of a cross onto the freshly dug-up soil to bless the ground, which Holland said Buddy did to ensure a successful store opening and people would enjoy the shop. 

Olivia Mohr is an intern at The Jessamine Journal. Contact her at olivia.mohr@centralkynews.com.