From fast-lane life to Manhattan, Kansas, Eliot Aliu has implemented ideas from New York-style pizza to baked pastas, subs, salads and desserts and has now opened the first location of Viva Pizzas.
Viva Pizzas opened Aug. 15 and has been offering more and better quality options to its customers, said Eliot Aliu, founder and manager of Viva Pizzas.
“It’s just a brand, Viva Pizzas, but it’s actually a New York-style restaurant,” Aliu said.
Aliu worked in New York for three years, which is where he started his New York-style concept and inspiration to start the business. He moved to Manhattan six months ago with the idea of reaching student life and family life at the same time.
“I’ve worked in different places for a reason,” Aliu said. “To build something different, a different menu with quality food, fresh-made daily, not from processed food from machines and factories, but with everything made by hand.”
Lisa Murphy, a cashier at Viva Pizzas, said the pizza tastes exactly like it does on the East Coast.
“I’m originally from Pennsylvania so I kind of know that New York-style pizza because I tried it there and it’s exactly the same, like being back in the East Coast,” Murphy said. “It’s all handmade. If you’re in there you can see them making it. It’s not like the frozen stuff that other pizza places use. My dad grew up in New York and he’ll tell you the same thing how ‘yeah, that’s New York pizza right there.’”
Aliu said at other restaurants there is usually just a simple menu, but Viva Pizzas offers more than 15 pizzas on their menus for vegetarians, meat lovers, cheese lovers or whatever the customer wants including thin crust, thick crust, Sicilian-style and New York-style.
“Our goal more is to keep the quality of the food,” Aliu said. “It’s not about just making sales.”
Aliu said everything on the menu can be catered with no extra charge. They also deliver everywhere in town and up to five miles out of town for an extra $2.50 fee.
He said they have done three to four catering events for places, including K-State’s Nichols Hall theater and the College of Engineering.
“We check and see how it was with them and if they have any issues,” Aliu said. “I give them gift cards and stuff like that that makes them come back and appreciate us and we appreciate them too and we try to work together.”
Ashley Huffman, senior in psychology, said that Aliu has gotten in touch with the community and the people of Manhattan to show he really cares about his customers.
“Catering allows him to get in touch with the community more,” Huffman said. “He sells pizza and delivers but another big thing is their catering and that’s a way to get involved with the community and businesses and to work together that way. “
Another cool thing, Huffman said, is that Viva Pizzas believes in recycling.
“He orders his pizza boxes from New York and they are actually plates,” Huffman said. “You take it out of the box and it turns into a plate. That way it’s all recyclable.”
When asked about her bosses, which consists of three managers, Murphy said they care about the people and fix what the customers don’t like so they make sure they like it.
“I love when people are in there and I see him talking to his customers,” Murphy said. “They treat (the customers) like they’ve already met them and you don’t see that a lot. They’re just so open and friendly. “
In the future, Aliu said he plans on opening several more Viva Pizzas locations in Manhattan.
“We just want to give to the people and give the chance so everybody can try and eat it and enjoy it,” Aliu said.
Their favorite pizzas, you may ask?
Huffman said she really likes the fresh margarita pizza.
“It’s so pretty,” Huffman said. “The buffalo chicken is really good with the buffalo sauce. There’s an Alfredo pizza that’s delicious too.”
When asked what Aliu’s favorite pizza is, he said, “I just like all the pizza. I like them all, I don’t have a favorite.”