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BRAZORIA COUNTY, Texas - At a time of rising inflation and a possible recession, some businesses may be looking to 'protect' themselves from whatever's coming. But a Brazoria County pizzeria thinks 'now' is the time to grow.
A little over a year ago, Grace Pizza & Shakes opened in Alvin. In the last two months, the business has expanded 200%.
Less than 24 hours after its soft-opening, the kitchen is busy serving lunch at the new Pearland location.
Word got out and people showed to sample the new place, which joins the original Alvin location, and another, opened just in May, in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.
Partners Adrian Hembree and VJ Nandlal say it's a classic story of 'right place, right time'.
"We never woke up in the morning, saying 'We want to open another restaurant," says Nandlal. "These opportunities just felt 'right' in our gut."
Those opportunities were the sudden availability of spaces that were important to the pair, and a product that was well-received by diners who could be counted on to enjoy a slice year round, and all day.
Not growing, never seemed an option.
"If you're comfortable, you're not learning, you're not growing, you're not moving, you're not changing, you're not developing," says Hembree.
Hembree brings long-standing restaurant experience to the mix that he shared with Nandlal, who offers business and finance expertise. Together, the concept is more than the food. It's an enthusiasm and hospitality that they think will carry the day.
"Tons of people do great food in this city. I love Houston for the food scene," says Hembree. "But when you're here, we love you. We're humble, we're kind, we're caring, we want to be good."
Opening a restaurant is not as simple as being nice and cooking good food. It's a challenging business on the best day, with ideas that didn't pan out and COVID restrictions having taken a toll on some of Hembree's other projects.
The pizza concept, though, is going well, and worrying about what might not work is not on the menu.