BOARDMAN — On the way home from a trip to Cleveland about two years ago, Youngstown natives Jim and Hope Fossesca, in search of a convenient lunch spot, stopped at a Zoup! Eatery in Solon.
While enjoying their bowls of soup — he, seafood etouffee; she, turkey chili — both were scrolling on their phones. Unbeknownst to the other, they were both looking up franchise opportunities for the fast-casual soup spot.
On June 21, the couple will open the Mahoning Valley's first Zoup! Eatery at 1315 Boardman-Canfield Road.
Hope used to manage fast-food restaurants before going back to school and opening two preschools in Austintown. Jim has an online business selling sports apparel that he's winding down.
"We were thinking of opening a third preschool, but once we saw this place, we were like, 'Let's diversify!'" Hope explained.
They started the process before the coronavirus pandemic, which slowed them down, but "it bought us some time, because we didn't have to open in the worst of it," Jim said.
Right now, he thinks the timing is on their side.
"Honestly, I think we're opening at a perfect time," said Jim. "Things are opening back up."
"We were more thankful we did the restaurant instead of another childcare," said Hope. "The childcare industry, I think is hurting, whereas the restaurant industry, I know they've had their struggles, but let's face it everyone loves to go out to eat."
But, hiring has been a challenge, the couple agreed.
"For right now, we mostly have high schoolers working," said Hope. They're hoping to hire some permanent daytime staff by the time fall rolls around.
The Fossesca's location will be Zoup!'s 21st in Ohio. It offers dine-in, take-out, delivery and catering. The couple also opted to put a patio in front of the store.
"We have two big hundred-pound [mixed-breed] doodles," said Hope. "That's why we have the patio."
"We wanted to have somewhere where people could go to eat with their pups," Jim said.
Zoup! offers 12 types of soups daily from a list of more than 200, in addition to broth bowls, grain bowls and sandwiches.
"It's hard to beat our lobster bisque," said Jim.
Prior to the location's June 21 opening, Zoup! is hosting VIP pre-opening events on June 18 and June 19 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The location is partnering with child advocacy nonprofit Making Kids Count for the event and will accept donations.
You can sign up to attend by registering as a Zoup! Insider.
For more upcoming openings, take a look at our Mahoning Valley restaurant guide. If your restaurant would like to share its news, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, phone number and a short update.