‘The Pasta Boys’ bring home-cooked meals to the neighborhood

(Photo Courtesy of Kenedi Kelso)

As a student, it may be difficult to access a home-cooked meal. Santino Trombino, Kenedi Kelso, Quinn Tilley and Tyler Bolz sought to change that Sunday, Sept. 18. Their vision, a drive-thru pasta bar complete with homemade marinara and pasta, was a success — both with students and on TikTok.

With over four million views and 625,000 likes so far, the group’s angel-haired antics became an overnight hit on social media. Kenedi Kelso, junior in mass communications and entrepreneurship, said she wasn’t startled when her TikTok blew up.

“I had joked with the boys that I was going to make them viral. I just wasn’t expecting to get as big as it did,” Kelso said. “But I wasn’t surprised either — a video that I had made of them building a double-decker couch earlier this year got 4.3 million views. It showed there was a huge interest in three college guys doing crazy stuff.”

While the outcome was successful, the idea had humble beginnings. The group has hosted pasta nights with friends for over a year now, and Santino Trombino, sophomore in construction science and management, said the drive-thru idea was built on the same concept. 

“Think about it as one big dinner with your friends,” Trombino said. “You provide the food, and everyone just pays you back.”

The idea for drive-thru pasta has been very abstract for almost a year. Tyler Bolz, junior in integrated computer science, said a random bystander was the final push. 

“The Thursday before we did the drive-thru, some kid walked by and said, ‘Yo, you guys are the pasta boys!’ and we were like, ‘You know who we are?’” Bolz said. “We decided then we needed to please our fans and make the community proud.”

The group described their success as organized chaos, but with Trombino in the kitchen, Bolz as the front of house, Kelso as marketing and Tilley as an all-around helper, the concept is already becoming a well-oiled machine. Quinn Tilley, junior in economics, said each member of the group has a specific role.

“I’m not very good at the cooking, but I can clean and help out wherever needed,” Tilley said. “Tyler is pretty good at talking to people and meeting everyone, and Tino takes care of all of the cooking.” 

After seeing the positive feedback from the Kansas State community, the group is planning on putting a cap on the number of people that can come. 

“We’ll probably buy double the amount that we did last time,” Trombino said. “We’re hoping to do some different stuff too. Our next night, we’re doing cannolis and a vodka sauce instead of the classic marinara, and we’re really excited about it.” 

As the crew gears up for their next drive-thru event on Oct. 9, they said they share one common goal: to bring people together in the Manhattan community. College is about creating experiences, making memories, and having fun. Trombino, Kelso, Tilley and Bolz’s drive-thru allowed for just that, through something as simple as a home-cooked meal.