Randy and Gerri Verdi's purchase of Fontina's Imported Foods is just two weeks old, but they already have plenty of familiarity with their new business.
Fontina's is located where the couple opened Great Harvest Bread in the '90s. The Verdis sold that business in 2001 to focus on family and Randy's career as a financial analyst. Many of the memories and familiar faces from Great Harvest came back to Randy as he opened Fontina's under new ownership this month.
"It's surreal," he said. "We're excited to be back in the business community. We've grown up business-wise in the Mentor community, and it's great to have a business back in here."
Randy, a previous chairman of the Mentor Area Chamber of Commerce, says his family's newest venture is much easier to handle than the first.
"When we first had the business, we had one-year old twins," Randy said. "Now, they're 17. They can be part of the solution as opposed to part of the quagmire. It was not simple when we first moved up."
Fontina's carries Italian subs, pizza, lasagna and more. The business also offers deli meats, cheeses, bread, baked treats and select groceries.
The Verdis are still in the process of buying the property at 8270 Mentor Ave. Once that purchase is official, they will begin expanding Fontina's into the vacant unit next door. Randy envisions another counter dedicated to gelato, pies, cakes, cookies and espresso some time after New Years.
In the meantime, Fontina's will expand its menu with pasta dishes and specialties like "Grandma Susie's Stuffed Peppers."
"We'll be keeping it priced in such a way that people really see value," Randy said. "We want to keep that value statement out in front of people, where they say, 'oh my gosh, this is incredible.'"
The couple believes its previous entrepreneurial experience in Mentor will help that effort.
"We have a much better feel for the community and what we think we can bring to it," Randy said. "We're more mature that way. We didn't know anyone from 'Adam' when we first came in.
"Now, it feels like putting on an old glove. It feels good.
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