At a time when COVID-19 has curtailed opportunities, Alexander Papa is expanding again.
He’s opening his second Papa Gelateria location Saturday in New Wilmington.
“For a long, long time now it (New Wilmington) was an option on the table,” said Papa, who opened his original location on New Castle’s North Hill in 2019 at age 17. “The way this year, was working out, I didn’t think we’d be able to do it this soon. It really started to pick up speed just this month.”
While the pandemic months of 2020 did present their challenge, Papa has been making up for lost time. In January, he added a coffee bar to complement his gelato, which he calls “the cheesecake of ice cream.” Shortly thereafter, panini sandwiches found their way onto the menu as well.
“Everything we have in New Castle we’ll have in New Wilmington,” Papa said. “But we’ll do some things to try to draw people between the two. This summer, we’ll have music nights in New Castle to draw people there. And maybe we’ll have a couple flavors here that we won’t have in New Castle to bring people up here.”
Papa envisions four to five regular employees at his New Wilmington location in addition to himself.
“Definitely a lot more than the New Castle one because it’s like a main street location,” Papa said, referring to his tucked-away site in New Castle. That shop fronts on East Street, in the shadow of New Castle High School, but it has a Highland Avenue address because it is located in the rear of a building owned by his grandfather that faces that street.
In New Wilmington, where the shop is situated at 141 S. Market St., “People can see me. I have an address here.”
Chances are, customers literally will see Papa there. He’s keeping the New Castle location open – “That’s always been the plan, to have many of them” – but believes he will be needed more in New Wilmington.
“The nice thing about the New Castle place is that everybody is really well trained, they have the routine and the schedule down,” he said. “There’s actually barely a need for me there anymore, which is really cool. It lets me step back more and look on.”
Papa is a student at Youngstown State University, gearing up for a stint at University of Akron School of Law. He opened his shop in the same space that his father, attorney Chris Papa, had opened one during his own pre-law days.
Alexander Papa still has his sights set on the legal profession, but he admits the lure of entrepreneurship is enticing.
“It’s seeming a lot more permanent,” he said. “I’m really excited to see how this one does. Right now, I’m still planning on going to law school. But if this one takes off and that one takes off, there just might not be a need for it.
“Right now, I’m content.”