Some people may not know this — IL included until recently — but social media maven Bella Portaro Kueber and her entrepreneur husband Rick Kueber are restaurateurs, and the couple are opening their second restaurant later this month.
The Kuebers opened the fast-casual concept Topp’t Pizza & Chopped Salad in their hometown of Elizabethtown, Ky. last November, Portaro Kueber told IL, and they are opening their second Topp’t Pizza in New Albany.
The New Albany store will open July 29 at 373 Professional Court off Charlestown Road near the movie theater. Its hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Topp’t Pizza is a unique fast-casual pizza and salad concept because many of its ingredients are Kentucky Proud products. The restaurant gets its ingredients from SoFo Foods and Louisville-based food distributor Creation Gardens, Portaro Kueber said. Its meats also are antibiotic- and hormone-free, and Topp’t Pizza offers a gluten-free crust.
“I would love to be a part of helping people know what is going into their food and how it is affecting their bodies,” Portaro Kueber said, calling the menu “mindful.”
The couple, with help from some local chefs, crafted Topp’t Pizza’s menu, which includes items such as a bacon cheeseburger pizza, a Southwest-inspired pizza, an orchard salad and garlic breadsticks.
The New Albany store will look very different from the Elizabethtown location, which was converted from a Moe’s Mexican Grill. The Elizabethtown Topp’t Pizza is bright and in-your-face, Portaro Kueber said.
“It’s kind of a marketing explosion. It’s been trial and error.”
The New Albany location, on the other hand, is being constructed to the Kuebers’ needs and wants. The design is toned down and will be filled with custom-made metal tables, wood booths and other pieces from Louisville-based furniture fabricators Watts Cove. Designer Kacey Hauss and architecture firm Foxworth Architecture also helped create the look and feel of New Albany Topp’t Pizza.
“With this one, we had a lot of freedom,” Rick Kueber said. “It’s going to have a totally different look and feel.”
The New Albany store is 3,600 square feet and will seat roughly 140 people total between the interior and outdoor patio. It will open with about 30 employees, including four or five full-time positions.
The couple also has made some functional changes to the design after learning from their experience operating in Elizabethtown.
“We have a larger make-line in New Albany so we can process customers even faster,” he said. “That is probably one of the big changes in the infrastructure.”
Expect the couple to continue to make tweaks after the New Albany store opens.
“It’s a concept in its infancy and will take a lot of time to work out the kinks,” Kueber said. But since it’s locally owned, “we can react really quick when we identify a better opportunity to serve a better product.”
Depending on the performance of the New Albany store, Topp’t Pizza may continue expanding.
“Hopefully if this one goes well, we will bring one to Louisville very soon,” Portaro Kueber said.