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Conversations with Kristy Hacisabanoglu

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristy Hacisabanoglu.

Hi Kristy, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
My first job at 15 years old was in a restaurant. I loved the organized chaos of working in a restaurant immediately. After high school, I started college to pursue a business/finance career. My plans were always to own a business but wasn’t sure what type of business that would be. I was always the party planner and loved decorating and designing parties for my family and friends. I planned my parent’s 25th anniversary party 26 years ago and found my passion! From that moment on, I started my business plan to open an off-premise catering company. I took classes at a local culinary school while completing my business degree. I opened my first catering kitchen in 1997 and continued working full-time in the corporate field for the first two years. In 2002, I had the opportunity to lease a country club facility and open a restaurant and banquet venue, I loved to plan and cater weddings so I felt this was the perfect fit to expand the business. After only two years, I had to close the business due to unforeseen circumstances out of my control. During the same time, I owned a consignment bridal boutique and decided to close it too. It had been a difficult couple of years for me and my family and we all needed a break. I continued my career in hospitality for several years working for hotels and contract food management companies. I was very lucky to find companies that enabled me to be myself and be creative to design so many unique events.

After the birth of my second child, I decided to stay home to be with my son but continued catering part-time from referrals… I also renewed another passion of mine, gardening during this time… My husband and I purchased my grandparent’s homestead in the country and I began organic gardening which led to a full-time farm with animals. My plan was to incorporate my gardening into the catering or restaurant business to create a farm to table experience eventually. I was starting to miss the hustle and bustle of the restaurant/catering business so this led to purchasing the Pizzeria in 2019… My friend wanted to retire and my husband and I decided this may be a good step for our future. The restaurant was established and had a great staff and would be an easy transition for us. I’ve continued my gardening and hoping soon to offer a few menu items from my organic garden or possibly a new restaurant concept. Its been fun incorporating my passion for catering/party planning into the restaurant scene by offering fun pizza making parties, wine tastings, and crazy fun events for every holiday. The stress of 2020 was very unexpected and not easy for the restaurant business but we adapted well to the many changes and continue to move forward. The Pizzeria has been going strong for 15 years and I plan on it being around for many more.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
There have been many struggles along the way, but it definitely made me stronger each time to take on the next obstacle. My first catering kitchen took a year to open(after signing the lease) due to city/county issues with the facility. Finally after a couple of years working full-time in the corporate field and operating the catering business at night and weekends, I was able to focus full-time on the catering company. Shortly after, I was dealing with divorce and being a single mom of a toddler while self-employed. My family was so supportive during it all and enabled me to continue with the catering business. I expanded the business to include a restaurant and banquet venue by leasing a country club facility, but after only two years the owner of the facility was foreclosed on and the bank forced me out of my lease.

I believe this was the most devastating to me. I had worked so hard to build a business and then was forced to close it all and completely start over… After several years of working for hotels and contract food management companies and dealing with the struggles of the corporate hospitality industry; I decided to purchase a restaurant in 2019 from a friend when he decided to retire. I’m thankful for the struggles throughout my career because it definitely helped to prepare me for dealing with being a restaurant owner during the pandemic of 2020 and now into 2021. I was not expecting these types of challenges just months after purchasing the restaurant but I guess you never know what life will bring. The struggles continue, but I am determined to make it work. It just takes a little more creativity these days.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
My restaurant is definitely known for the New York Style Pizza. It was established 15 years ago and has a large following of Pizza fans. It’s a great feeling to have so many loyal customers tell us the Pizzeria makes them feel like they are back home. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been incorporating my passion for catering and event planning into the restaurant by hosting pizza making parties, wine tastings, and fun events for every holiday. I feel that hosting these special events really sets us apart from other Pizzeria’s in the area. It definitely brings that community feels to our place. Also, we have several crew members that have been with us for more than ten years. The customers love to come in and see the same faces every time they visit and trust they will receive the same delicious pizza every time.

Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
It is always scary to take risks but I feel it’s the best way to learn. You have to fail a few times to really learn from your mistakes. You have to challenge yourself to really know what you are meant to do! .I’ve definitely taken risks in the past with my career and life, I left a very secure job, which would have made a good career to pursue my catering career and to own my own business. Many people close to me thought I was crazy to give up the benefits and secure job but I feel like life is too short to be unhappy with your job or career. I then expanded my business by opening a restaurant and banquet venue by leasing the food/beverage facility in a golf & country club. This was a monster step in my career but again, I felt like it was now or never. I needed to grab this opportunity and see if I could make it work not only for me but for my family. It didn’t always work out but it definitely made me stronger to handle the next situation whether it was business or personal.

Contact Info:

  • Email: napoliitalianpizzeria@gmail.com
  • Website: www.semoranpizza.com
  • Instagram: @napolipizzaplace
  • Facebook: @napoliorlandopizza
  • Yelp: napoliitalianpizza

Image Credits
Tara Hill Photography

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