As Kirkland Urban continues construction, QFC and Seattle-based pizzeria Tutta Bella announced a partnership at the mixed-use complex with an in-store location to open this summer.
Tutta Bella is currently celebrating its 15th year of business in the greater Seattle area and, with locations in Bellevue and Issaquah, the Neapolitan pizzeria had already been eyeing Kirkland as another expansion site. After an efficient planning phase that began in April, Tutta Bella will open a small location within QFC’s 50,000 square-foot Kirkland Urban location sometime in July or August.
“I’ve always liked the Kirkland community and the city has been on our radar for years,” Tutta Bella owner Joe Fugere said. “The community has always been supportive of businesses and the city has always been supportive of businesses, so we have just been waiting for the right location to come up.”
The new location will be a downsized version of the flagship restaurants and without a sit-down area. However, Fugere, his team and QFC officials have worked to ensure the food will maintain the same quality Tutta Bella is known for, even going as far as installing a wood-burning oven within the grocery store.
Tutta Bella makes classical Neapolitan pizzas that use imported and locally sourced ingredients to be authentic to the traditional style that originated in Naples, Italy. The new location will offer the six best-selling pies off Tutta Bella’s standard menu, Italian sandwiches, lasagna, salads, tiramisu and a fresh Sicilian cannoli bar filled-to-order.
“Everyone from the QFC president down, to everyone on her team have been wonderful to work with,” Fugere said. “From the onset, Suzy made it clear that they wanted us to open our restaurant, not their restaurant. We’re not having our food made by some third party, this location will be scratch cooking just like the other restaurants.”
QFC president Suzy Monford added in a press release, “Their pizza is amazing and their mission of nourishing lives by sharing traditions, authentic food and love aligns with our purpose of feeding the human spirit.”
Locals and Kirkland Urban shoppers will be able to sit at the counter, order take-out, grab and go, order online and even eventually be able to have Tutta Bella delivered.
“It won’t be available right when we open, but they’ll be able to order and pay through our app or our website,” Fugere said. “I think that’ll be especially important since we’ll have a few thousand office workers above us at Kirkland Urban.”
QFC and Tutta Bella were significantly quick in taking this joint project from concept to reality, planning to open less than four months after the initial proposal.
Fugere attributed this efficiency to his own staff’s preparation — being ready to jump on any opportunity that comes up — and well-aligned principals that propagated a partnership between the pizzeria and QFC.
“We are so excited about our partnership with Tutta Bella,” Monford said in the release. “The Q has been on a mission since 1956 to champion the best local quality and to curate a special foodie experience. Tutta Bella fits that model perfectly.”
Another contribution to the quick turnaround time was the city of Kirkland, according to Fugere who praised the city for being business friendly. Fugere has applied for business licenses in numerous cities, including Seattle, Bellevue and Issaquah, but emphasized that the process was “seamless” with Kirkland being “welcoming and helpful.”
As local businesses and public officials in Kirkland are excited for Tutta Bella’s newest location, Fugere is excited to continue offering the same quality experience that his restaurants have since 2004 and proud of his team for being ready to expand on such short notice.
“I was thinking of how much business here has changed over the years — the increased rent, costs of business and competition with the rising tech field has made us ensure we continue to be a great business,” Fugere said. “Our growth has never been plotted out — we have no investors and we’re privately owned so there’s no pressure to open new locations. It’s organic and it happens as we feel we’re ready and frankly as our employees and leadership bench feel they’re ready.”