Taylor and Blaire Bobo went to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. This is where they became familiar with Rotolo’s, a restaurant specializing in pizza and beer.
“It was one of the few places that was open late at night,” said Blaire Bobo. “They had great deals on calzones. You could go get a huge calzone that would feed you for two meals.”
The Bobos are the franchisees of the newest Rotolo’s Craft & Crust, which is coming to East Memphis. The restaurant, which has a planned opening on May 23, is located at 681 S. White Station Road in the White Oak Shopping Center. The couple owns two other Rotolo’s in Ruston, Louisiana, and Alexandria, Louisiana.
After college, the Bobos ended up in Shreveport, where they encountered a Rotolo’s.
“We realized they franchised,” Bobo said. “We were looking for different investment opportunities. So, we went down to Baton Rouge and met with Mitch Rotolo. That’s how our journey began.”
The story of Rotolo’s begins in 1996. That’s when founder Mitch Rotolo decided to give up his nine-to-five job to open a pizzeria that serves beer. He opened his first location in Baton Rouge, near the LSU campus. Somehow, someway, the combo of pizza/beer/college students clicked, and the Rotolo’s brand has since grown to more than 30 locations.
At some point, Rotolo’s split into two brands — the original pizzeria and Rotolo’s Craft & Crust. All new Rotolo’s will be Craft & Crusts. The Craft & Crust iteration is described as a more modern take, with an elevated menu featuring truffle fries, calamari, whole-roasted cauliflower, and vegan items.
Craft & Crust offers three styles of pizza: the craft pizza, with a regular crust; Chicago-style deep dish; and thin crust. They also serve Buffalo wings, a bacon mac and cheese pie, pasta dishes, soups and salads, sandwiches, and desserts.
Bobo estimates that the White Station Rotolo’s is around 5,000 square feet, with seating for 186. The new spot will have a patio and 32 beers on tap.
Rotolo’s has a standard look, Bobo said. But, each location is encouraged to use wood for their bars that is site-specific. The Bobos choose a bar with a live edge made by CityWood.
“It’s beautiful,” Bobo said.
The Bobos live in East Memphis, and so the White Station spot made sense to them.
“We liked the idea that it was in the heart of East Memphis but not on Poplar Avenue,” she said.
Rotolo’s was designed to be a place where college kids would want to hang out but at the same time be family-friendly.
Bobo said the restaurant feeds all her family’s cravings.
“Everybody in our family has a different favorite. My kids love the Krewe calzone. My husband loves the Chicago cracker thin crust,” Bobo said. “I love it all. The Popeye pizza, the Corona pizza — those are some of my favorites.”