When Kenedi Kelso, Quinn Tilley, Tyler Bolz and Santino Trombino went viral on TikTok for their pasta drive-thru, they saw an opportunity to make an impact on the Manhattan community, and they continue to do just that.
Kelso said she thinks the group’s antics are still relevant because of the innocence and fun showcased in their content.
“I think it’s kind of refreshing for people to see college kids not doing your stereotypical partying and going out,” Kelso said. “It was just them coming up with unique, crazy ideas. I think that’s what made it viral.”
The group recently got the opportunity to appear on the Kelly Clarkson Show. After producers reached out, Bolz said there was radio silence for a period of time. But, when the show reached out once again, production began in full force.
“It was crazy because it had been a couple of months since we heard from them, had done a couple of pasta Sundays and thought our five minutes of fame was over. Then this kind of came out of nowhere,” Bolz said.
Trombino said, when preparing for the interview, he experienced some stress. With such a strict timeline, there was a lot of preparation to accomplish in a short time period.
“We went through an interview with the producer and then an interview with Kelly Clarkson,” Trombino said. “The whole thing was probably a week of preparation.”
Once on the show, however, the crew said they didn’t feel as stressed. The interview was done from the comfort of their home, which aided in calming their nerves. But Tilley said being together was one of the biggest reasons they were able to stay so calm.
“It’s pretty much like running a business, so being able to have fun and be successful and not get mad or butt heads or anything shows how close we are,” Tilley said.
Shortly after their experience on the show, the group had another huge opportunity to run a philanthropy partnership event. On Feb. 5 the boys hosted a pasta night in collaboration with Pi Kappa Phi fraternity to benefit the Ability Experience, an organization with the goal of empowering those with disabilities. The event was a hit, with about 150 people in attendance.
Implementing their normal drive-through system — this time out of the Pi Kappa Phi house instead of the Pasta Boys’ own home — the group served customers in their cars. All of the proceeds went to charity.
A large amount of preparation went into the event, as the addition of more people and a different location added an extra layer of planning.
“I made about 20 pounds of spaghetti and enough sauce for all of it,” Trombino said. “They ended up going through two containers, which is about 15 pounds of pasta.”
After expanding their outreach and gaining more experience, Kelso said she believes the group’s main focus will now turn to philanthropy.
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“The original reason Tino started it wasn’t because he wanted to make money from it,” Kelso said. “He had always done pasta Sunday’s with his family and thought it would be cool to get the whole Manhattan community involved. Now, seeing how big of an impact it’s made, we want to make a bigger impact by helping charities.”
The Pasta Boys’ fame has grown exponentially, but the friends’ values and relationships have not changed, Bolz said. The group attributes their success, both through media and events, to their bonds with each other.
“We’ve always been close, and we’re always joking around so things never get bad between us,” Bolz said. “We’ll do something crazy like blow up on TikTok or go on the Kelly Clarkson Show, but then every night we still sit on the same couch and watch the same stupid TV shows. It takes you back down to Earth real quick.”
Now, with their goal of continuing Pasta Sundays and continuing to host philanthropy events, the Pasta Boys are excited to grow closer to each other and the Manhattan community.
“It’s crazy how far it’s come,” Trombino said. “I never would’ve expected my mom’s recipe to get us where we are today.”