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Catering to Seton hospital crowds

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Posted: Friday, June 15, 2012 12:00 pm

By Rebecca Rose

Harker Heights Herald

As Seton Medical Center Harker Heights prepares to open for patients in less than two weeks, two nearby restaurants have arrived to cater to the anticipated demand of hungry patrons.

A pair of local food business veterans recently opened the sports-themed eatery Red's in Market Heights.

"The name stands for relaxed, eat, drink, sports," said Todd Smith, who co-owns the eatery with Wayne Young. The business partners have worked together at several restaurants in Killeen, including Old Chicago, a pizza venue.

Situated in the former home of Fish City Grill, which closed last year, Red's owners greeted their first customers last week. Smith said the goal was to emulate a neighborhood bar, with good food in an accessible, fun environment.

"I'm a hometown guy," said Smith, who's from Killeen. "This has been the dream to own a place like this."

When Fish City Grill closed, Smith and Young reached for their dream and reached out to veteran restaurateur, Jeff Orlando, who owns two Schlotsky's locations and a Wing Stop venue in the local area.

"(Orlando) offered incredible, great guidance," said Smith. "I've opened 13 restaurants, but to do it entirely on your own, that's totally different. His leadership, guidance and energy were key."

Young, a native New Yorker, said most of the work involved with getting Red's ready for its opening day was the venue's face-lift. "It needed a lot of work done on the inside," he said. "We did everything ourselves. We painted, did repairs and more."

Young and Smith said the first days of business were extremely busy, with customer volume propelled by foot traffic and word-of-mouth.

Movies and pizza

Customers who enjoy a slice or two at Bobby Lupo's NY Style Pizzeria won't be able to give their compliments to "Bobby Lupo" when the shop opens Monday.

"The name comes from a movie," said Ernie Safady, laughing when asked about the shop's namesake. "It's a fictitious character."

Bobby Lupo was a character in "Out for Justice," a 1991 action film starring Steven Segal.

"When I first saw that movie, I thought it would be a good name for a sports bar," said Safady, who opened the pizzeria with business partner, Dennis "B.J." Benjamin. "And, I guess it just stuck with me all these years."

Similar to the owners of Red's, Safady is a longtime veteran in the local food business scene. He is the former proprietor of Ernie's Sports Bar and Grill, which closed in 2010.

In coming up with the concept for the new eatery, Safady said he looked for a concept that the area didn't offer, settling on New York-style pizza.

"I always wanted to build a pizza restaurant. I just loved the theme," he said. "There're a lot of military people here, from the East Coast. I think we're going to touch a lot of hearts and trigger a lot of memories."

Situated less than a mile from Market Heights and just around the corner from the new Seton hospital, Safady said the pizzeria is located in an ideal spot.

"(Farm-to-Market) 2410 has a lot of traffic on it," he said. "But traffic congestion isn't bad. We can get a lot of exposure here."

Pizza chef Steve Tripp, with more than 20 years' experience, handled much of the new shop's menu and kitchen operations.

"A lot of places cook on rotator belts or on screens," he said. "But this is very authentic, just like it is in New York City."

At Bobby Lupo's, pizzas are cooked in a brick oven, after the dough is hand-tossed in the traditional way. "This is the way they intended it back then," said Tripp.

"All of our sauces are homemade," said Tripp. "Our sauce is from real tomatoes, not concentrate."

In keeping with the New York-style motif, Bobby Lupo's menu also offers Coney Island-themed desserts, such as carnival-style funnel cake.

Contact Rebecca Rose at rebeccar@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7548. Follow her on Twitter at KDHBusinessNews.

If you go

Bobby Lupo's: 420 E. Farm-to-Market 2410 Suite 110, Harker Heights. For more information, call (254) 690-5876 or go to www.bobbylupospizza.com.

Red's: 201 E. Central Texas Expressway, Harker Heights. For more information, call (254) 690-7337.

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