As a teenager working in the kitchen at the original Russo’s Pizzeria in Galveston, TX, Randy McCoy knew there was something special about the pizza franchise. He vividly recalls the mouth watering aromas of the authentic, made-from-scratch Italian food that has become synonymous with the Russo’s brand.
“It was a little, 500-square-foot take-out and delivery restaurant,” said Randy. “That was my first job. My brother and I assisted Anthony [Russo] with preparing all the fresh ingredients. I have a lot of good memories of those summers.”
Today, Randy is preparing to begin his journey to bring five Russo’s franchises to Galveston and North Houston markets. Joining Randy is his wife, Ayesha, as they set the stage for building a legacy of family-run businesses.
From Pizza Franchise Ownership to Construction
Growing up, Randy had always worked in the restaurant industry. He managed multiple restaurants in the Galveston area. At 24 years old, he took ownership of a local pizza franchise that was underperforming.
“He devoted his entire life to turning that restaurant around for several years,” explained Ayesha. “He resurrected it and ended up selling it for a profit a few years down the road.”
In 2008, an event occurred that spawned a sudden career change for Randy. Hurricane Ike hit Galveston and caused massive damage to the metropolitan area.
“It dawned on Randy that renovating and contracting was something he could easily fall into because of the fact that he grew up in the area and he had a lot of contacts in the area of various trade organizations,” she added.
He started a contracting business that exploded over the next couple of years. He got involved with the Galveston Historical Society in preserving buildings across the city.
While Randy was successful with his business and was able to take care of his family while Ayesha was completing her training to become a certified anesthesiologist, it ultimately wasn’t his passion.
“He kept coming back to the idea of opening a restaurant — specifically an Italian restaurant,” said Ayesha.
Returning to His Roots, Passion for Foodservice
In 2012, the husband-and-wife duo took an initial step toward returning to foodservice by opening a smoothie franchise in Dickinson, TX. It was their first experience building a restaurant from the ground up, but they thrived nonetheless. The store reached the No. 1 spot in sales in the region within the first year.
As fate would have it, a Russo’s location opened up in the same shopping center as the McCoys’ smoothie franchise. Randy’s future was staring him in the face.
After selling their smoothie business, they began researching different franchise opportunities and kept coming back to Russo’s. One of the biggest differentiators is the brand’s dedication to only using the highest-quality, freshest ingredients.
“I remember hand-shredding blocks of mozzarella and making gallons and gallons of marinara sauce,” said Randy. “When I owned that first pizza franchise, everything was shipped in pre-boxed and frozen.”
Russo’s dishes are made from scratch and use fresh, organic ingredients. The menu features distinctly unique pizzas, including Truffle Mushroom, Prosciutto & Burrata and Prosciutto & Fig. Other menu items include Truffle Tortellini, Caprese Pasta, Chicken Piccata and Pappardelle Carbonara. The restaurant also offers gourmet soups, salads and desserts.
Russo’s family traditions play a role in every aspect of each restaurant, from the authentic family recipes to the warm hospitality to the respect given to each individual who walks through the doors. Handing off these recipes and traditions to the community is what makes Russo’s so unique.
The Perfect Time to Invest in a Pizza Franchise
After Randy’s eldest son and Ayesha’s brothers had graduated from college, they realized it was the ideal time to do something big — with Russo’s at the heart of it.
The McCoys contacted Anthony Russo in 2019 with the initial goal of opening five locations.
“When we went to sign the franchise agreement, Anthony had prepared all of this food,” Randy explained. “When we opened the doors, the aromas hit me, and it all came rushing back.”
Randy and Ayesha will be opening their first restaurant in the North Houston market in the late summer. The couple is looking to open an additional restaurant every nine months to a year after that.
“This is such an exciting milestone for me and my family because I’m fulfilling a lifelong dream of mine while also planting the seeds for my children’s future and many generations to come,” said Randy.
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