Although they've been open for three weeks, Verona's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria cut the ribbon on their business in Tifton Monday afternoon, a moment many have been waiting for due to a high demand for an Italian restaurant.
"We don't have an Italian Restaurant in Tifton, the closest I believe is Sylvester and Fitzgerald so I said let's try an Italian restaurant, let's start out slow."
With no prior business experience, Alvarez says they picked a spot small enough and hired a handful of employees so they could get the hang of things with the help of the Small Business Development Center and Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce.
"We try to provide what their needs are, whether it's training or letting them know what financial tools are available to them. We just try and be the conduit to allow them to grow," said Chamber Chairman, Randy Clements.
With 1,100 jobs created and $28 million dollars in capital investments, the chamber says they've created the formula for helping small businesses succeed no matter what's thrown their way. One of those curveballs will come when popular Italian chain, Olive Garden will open up right down the road.
"I really don't think that I'm up against Olive Garden at all, as far as taste. Everything that comes out of Verona's Italian Restaurant, it's fresh. So Olive Garden? Bring it!" said Alvarez, who believes the two restaurants can both survive in the same town.
Only time will tell if the small business can stand up to the large chain, but Chamber Chairman Randy Clements says with the support of the public, Verona's has a bright future.