Gregory Cole always knew that he would do well at anything he put his mind to. With a professional career that includes well over 20 years of success in the hospitality and retail industries, he warmly embraced the opportunity to run his own business. Today, he sits at the helm of the Camp Creek Marketplace’s newest restaurant (an growing East Point location) Chicago’s Nancy’s Pizza, further establishing the franchise’s reputation as the home of the original stuffed pizza. Specializing in the 2 ó” deep dish pizza, Cole is assuring that his franchise lives up to the company’s corporate tagline, which states, “We take fresh seriously.” The dough and sauce are made fresh daily, and all vegetables are fresh. With the new location he has added fresh made pasta to the menu, which he’s sure the customers will really enjoy!
In operation since November of 2006 at the previous Buckhead location, Cole’s leadership has ranked his franchise as number one out of 49 stores across the nation. As he savors the sweet taste of success, Cole is excited about his business as it stands today, and he is even more excited about what lies ahead. There are a number of contributing factors to Cole’s success. Grossing over $1.4 million in sales last year and currently surpassing its goal for the first quarter of this year at the NEW Camp Creek location, he attributes some of the company’s progression to his experience in the hospitality/food and beverage industry. Before spending a 20+ year career in hotel management, he also made history as the first African-American manager of Barnes Supermarket, a corporate chain supermarket in Pensacola, Florida.
But Cole also appreciates the fact that he has a team of professionals who are committed to excellence. With the exception of the new hires (due to the tremendous growth), all of them have been with me since I came on board. I have an excellent manager and supervisors, and they all are trained to be customer service focused,” he states. He also says that he has a hands-on management style that keeps him personable and approachable. “I don’t ask my people to do anything that I wouldn’t or couldn’t do. And, I’ve received comments from customers stating that it is admirable to see the owner interfacing with the customers, which is something that I do often. I think it’s important for the people to know that the leadership is sincerely concerned about their dining experience being a good experience,” he adds.
To that end, Cole is consistently strategizing new ideas that will attract more customers. For instance, the pizzeria offers Karaoke Saturday night with a deejay, and you never know what artist may stop in to sing. There is a happy hour type event on Thursdays called Therapeutic Thursdays. It should also be noted that the décor and style of the restaurant is not that of your everyday pizzeria in that Cole’s full bar presents a sports bar atmosphere. His location is one of only two stores that has a full bar.
Cole’s ultimate goal is to operate three stores in the metropolitan Atlanta area within the next three years. On target, he is looking forward to opening his second location back in Buckhead in the first quarter of 2017.
The history of Nancy’s Pizza dates back to 1971 when Italian immigrants, Nancy and Rocco Palese, opened their first pizza parlor, Guy’s Pizza, in Chicago. They were known for their thin crust pizza, but as business fluctuated, the Paleses began experimenting. Rather than imitate, Rocco modeled his new pizza creation after a family recipe for ‘scarciedda,’ an Easter specialty cake made by his mother. The end result was the first stuffed pizza in America, which is now a staple in the pizza industry. The invention and success of the stuffed pizza led to the opening of Rocco’s new restaurant in 1974, Nancy’s Pizza in Harwood Heights, IL. This was the first of many Nancy’s Pizza locations.
Nancy’s Camp Creek has a huge following via social media: @nancyscampcreek (twitter, instagram, snapchat, facebook)