When Marc Roppolo moved from New York to Texas in 1989 and scouted locations to open a pizza restaurant, he set his sights on Guadalupe Street.
“I knew that there are 50,000 students in Austin, so I was trying to find a place that had high volume just like Manhattan, and the only place I could think of in Texas was the University of Texas,” Roppolo said. “I came here looking around in hopes of finding a place, but I couldn’t find a place at that time.”
Roppolo ended up opening multiple Roppolo’s Pizzeria locations around Austin, but none near the University’s flagship campus. It wasn’t until 30 years after he moved to the city that a realtor reached out to Roppolo about touring a location near the intersection of Guadalupe and 26th streets where Fat Sal’s sandwich shop closed in January.
Roppolo said he was skeptical of opening Roppolo’s on the Drag, but the location was too good to pass up.
“I saw it was almost a freestanding building, a corner spot with great visibility,” Roppolo said. “I thought, ‘What the heck? If I’m going to do a thing before I die on Guadalupe, this would be the place to do it.’”
Roppolo’s Pizzeria’s grand opening on the Drag is set for Aug. 23. While the restaurant will open at 10:30 a.m. every day with breakfast and lunch pizza options, Roppolo said it will stay open “until all get a slice.”
“On weekends after the football games, we could be open until 2 to 3 in the morning or so,” Roppolo said. “It all depends on the kids. If the kids are hanging out over here till 2 o’clock every night, then yeah, we’ll stay open until 2 o’clock.”
Roppolo said because his pizza has been around Austin for decades, generations of students have come through his 6th Street restaurants.
“Two weeks ago, this gentleman and his daughter walked up to me and he said, ‘I used to eat here when I was going to UT, 30 years ago,’” Roppolo said. “He introduced me to his daughter and said, ‘This is where you get your pizza.’ So we’re feeding kids of kids that used to eat here.”
Exercise science junior Elle Tucker said she is excited for Roppolo’s to open near campus because it will provide another option for late-night dining.
“Usually I get boba tea or Potbelly if I’m around campus late and need to get food,” Tucker said.
James Lewis, a communication and leadership senior, said he goes to Roppolo’s almost every time he is downtown with his friends.
“Anytime there is pizza near college students, it’s a good idea, especially when Roppolo’s is a 6th Street staple and popular with UT-Austin students as it is,” Lewis said. “This new location is a good move.”
Despite restaurants such as Austin’s Pizza, Jamba Juice and Moojo closing doors on the Drag in the past year, Roppolo said he is confident this location will be successful because of his long track record in Austin.
“I’ve been around a long time,” Roppolo said. “If you hang around long enough, pray a lot, your mother’s in heaven looking down on you and your mother’s from Sicily, good things happen.”