FRUITLAND — Gayway Junction welcomed a newcomer in the pizza business last Friday, Aug. 13. The pizzeria is based in Weiser, where its original location can be found.
Ruszoni’s opened its doors to a very hungry crowd Friday, according to Rick Larson, general manager of the Fruitland location.
“It’s a very busy intersection right here; we get a lot of traffic through here on Highway 95,” said Larson about the decision to pick its Centennial Plaza location on the northwest side of the junction. “The location itself is very visible and according to this last week, if that’s any idea of what’s been going to happen … We’ve been really busy.”
How hungry was the opening day crowd? Larson said they cleaned him out.
“We had some really good numbers,” according to Larson. “Definitely cleared out my walk-in cooler. I had to go to Boise the next morning and load up my truck.”
The buffet at Ruszoni’s includes an expansive salad bar, with fresh salad ingredients available throughout the day. Larson said the salad bar usually requires two employees to keep stocked adequately.
According to Larson, daily pizza offerings on the buffet are frequently influenced by his customers.
“We’ll take orders from people and out those on the buffet, so they can try different types of pizzas or different combinations,” he said. “Actually we prefer that.”
Larson said Ruszoni’s main selling point is its dough, made each morning.
In addition to whole pizzas, available in 10-, 12-, 14-, or 16-inch sizes, Ruszoni’s also has calzones, sandwiches and 16 beers on tap.
While many pizza restaurants have shifted their focus to delivery and take-out service, Larson said Ruszoni’s aims to keep its focused on a family-oriented dining experience. While customers wait for their orders, an in-store arcade is offered, with modern and classic video games waiting for kids and kids-at-heart to press ‘start.’
Presently, Ruszoni’s does not offer delivery service, but Larson said he plans to start offering it soon.
“That is definitely a plan; we plan by the end of the month to have drivers,” he said, noting that he aims to hire five more employees at Fruitland. “That’ll be a big step up in the competition.”
In addition to the new Fruitland eatery, Ruszoni’s plans to open its doors in Parma as well, according to Larson. He expressed gratitude to the community for a successful opening weekend, and to his employees.
“These guys are just top-notch; We’re young but we’ve been doing some training over in Weiser before we came over here. We’re a little thin on numbers, so there’s some employees that have really put in a lot of time.”
Most importantly for Larson, he noted that he embraces the variety of pizza restaurants within the vicinity as being healthy competition.
“We’re all different styles,” he said. “Fruitland has been great; When you open a new business like this and new locations, there’s gonna be hiccups and [customers have] been so patient with our staff and they’ve been so friendly … I don’t think you could ask for a better starting than what we’ve had.”
Larson credits owner Nick Reed for setting his team up for success in Fruitland.