Growing up in Old Mount Druitt 25 years ago, Nour Atalla and Vince Pedulla would often venture down to the Westfield food court for lunch.
Now after establishing themselves as big-hitters on the Sydney food scene, the pair have returned to the centre with a store of their own.
Their franchise Pizza Fresh Co opened on Monday and the store is giving away 300 free pizzas on Thursday night to celebrate.
Mr Atalla said it was “emotional” to bring the project back to their old stomping ground, having made a name for themselves with ventures in Paddington, Bondi and Balmain.
“Vinnie and I wanted to focus on bringing something cool back to the west,” he said.
After spending years overseeing wine bars and fine-dining restaurants, Mr Atalla said the pair decided it was time to “not take ourselves too seriously”.
“We were trying to get our restaurants hatted. The only hat I need is a snap back,” he said.
Pizza Fresh Co serves a range from classic pizzas to signature flavours including Nacho Nacho Man and Ya Habeebi.
Behind the counter at the hip-hop-themed pizza store on Thursday will be former Penrith Panther and local icon Mark Geyer.
Mr Atalla said he wasn’t sure how Mr Geyer’s pizza-making skills would measure up, but was glad to have the “unofficial mayor of Mount Druitt” on board.
He said underpinning the franchise was a desire to offer jobs and skills to underprivileged youth.
“That is the backbone of what Pizza Fresh is all about,” he said.
“As much as we like to think it’s all fun and games, there’s a serious side to it too.
“If you don’t have the skills but want to learn there could be a job for you at Pizza Fresh.”
- Pizza Fresh Co, Westfield Mount Druitt will be giving away 300 free pizzas on Thursday, September 21 from 6pm. Details: www.pizzafreshco.com.au.