05/22/2009 09:16:15 PM EDT
Brothers Joe and Aldo Criscuolo have developed a reputation for their pizza as the owners of three shops in the region. Now, they hope to extend their culinary prowess into ice cream as operators of the first Tasti D-Lite franchises in Connecticut.
The Criscuolos, owners of Nick's Pizza in Stamford, Davinci's Pizza in Norwalk and Heights Pizza in Darien, plan to open a Tasti D-Lite shop in September at the Noroton Heights Shopping Center in Darien and another in October at 211 Main St., Stamford.
Billed as a healthy, low-fat, soft-serve frozen dessert, the ice cream originated in 1987 in New York City, and the business grew to more than 60 independently owned and operated stores in New York. In 2007, the company was acquired by SPG Partners LLC, a private equity firm. Now, Tasti D-Lite LLC is led by new Chief Executive Officer Jim Amos, who grew Mailboxes Etc. to 5,000 units before selling it to UPS in 2001. Aldo Criscuolo became familiar with Tasti D-Lite as a student at Manhattan College. The brothers said they realized that many people who commute to New York City every day have been exposed to the product and would patronize the suburban shops.
"We think it's a great product. In our area, there are a lot of pizza shops. It's very competitive. This complements pizza," said Joe Criscuolo, who with his brother owns the building at 211 Main St. To make room for the shop in Stamford, a Western Union and a check-cashing business there will consolidate. The shop will employ about five full- and part-time employees.
The Criscuolos will lease a 1,200-square-foot space at the Noroton Heights location, filling a space formerly occupied by a women's clothier.
The location may be ideal, said Kevin Coupe, editor of Darien-based MorningNewsBeat.com, a Web site that tracks and food and retail industries.