New owners, same great recipes: Pasquale’s Pizza and Pasta

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Pasquale’s Pizza and Pasta has undergone a complete renovation under the new ownership of Mike and Steve Morgan, brothers from Tarrant, Alabama. (Cheyenne Sharp)

CULLMAN, Ala – Pasquale’s Pizza has been a staple in the Cullman community since the 1960s when local couple Phillip and Donna Nunnelley brought the pizza franchise to Cullman. After many decades and memories, when the couple was looking to retire and sell the longtime eatery, the Morgan brothers stepped in to keep the spirit and nostalgic taste of the place alive.

Growing up in Tarrant, Steve and Mike Morgan were raised on Pasquale’s Pizza. By the late 90s many Pasquale’s franchises had closed. Hopeful to find a way to revitalize the chain and bring the famous Pasquale’s nostalgia back to the masses, Steve Morgan began to brainstorm how to make it happen.

“In the 80s, as kids, we grew up on Pasquale’s Pizza right outside of Birmingham, so we knew that food and loved it,” he said. “As we grew up and moved away, Pasquale’s became somewhat of a thing of the past.”

One location near Birmingham did stay open. Pasquale’s Pizza in Gardendale still stood and Steve Morgan visited frequently. At one of these stops, he learned about the possibility of an original Pasquale’s Pizza that could be for sale due to the owners’ retirement.

Morgan shared, “I used to always go in and joke with the owner about selling, and about two years ago after asking once again about the potential of selling, they told me about the Cullman location, and that they may be willing to sell and retire.”

Making the trek to Cullman from Gardendale, Morgan called his brother and said, “Gardendale isn’t going to happen, but I’m headed to Cullman now to meet with the owners there.” He met with Donna Nunnelley to discuss the restaurant’s future in Cullman and to hopefully strike a deal. It wasn’t long after, Steve and Mike Morgan began their plans for the new Pasquale’s, complete with a full bar, new bathrooms, a complete interior and exterior facelift and an outdoor seating area that has the ability to seat an additional 48 guests.

Despite the changes and cosmetic additions, there was one thing the brothers were adamant about staying the same.

“I met with Donna and I told her, ‘We want to buy this place from you and keep all the same recipes. We want to redo the inside and make it more of a modern sports bar-type feel. We want to add outdoor seating, possibly live music; we want to add a bar, but we want to keep the exact same recipes that everybody grew up on and everybody knows,’” Morgan recounted.

Purchasing the property was the easy portion of the new venture. After the deal was struck and the dotted lines were signed, the Morgan brothers got to work on the renovations to the restaurant. The only problem with the new plans was that City ordinances required a larger parking area for the expanded occupancy of the building. The pair got to work clearing the wooded area behind the pizza location, digging out trees, connecting utilities and pouring concrete for the additional parking spots; the unexpected addition held up the restaurant’s opening plans by around four and a half months.

The day has finally come to unveil the new Pasquale’s Pizza and Pasta to local residents who, like the Morgans, grew up with the Italian cuisine staple. Keeping the tradition and life of the original Pasquale’s Pizza in mind, most of the operations in the revamped location will largely stay the same.

 “The main dining area is the same, she (Donna Nunnelley) had some games for kids, so we kept room for games. She had the buffet; we will still have the buffet. She had the buffet open on Thursday nights; we will have the buffet open on Thursday nights. We are closed on Monday, but every day Tuesday through Sunday, we will open the buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and on Thursday evenings, we will open the buffet from 5-8 p.m. The format is the same as how she had it,” Morgan said. “We added an outdoor seating area that added 48 seats. We added a bar with 14 barstools as well as two additional ADA bathrooms on the bar side. With construction complete, we are excited about continuing the great tradition that Phillip and Donna started.

Pasquale’s Pizza and Pasta is located at 915 Second Ave. NW. The grand opening will take place Tuesday, April 2, at 11 a.m.

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