Founder of Roma passes on restaurant ownership to his son, long-time employee | MyWindsorNow.com
Katarina Velazquez · kvelazquez@greeleytribune.com

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Founder of Roma passes on restaurant ownership to his son, long-time employee

Family is something that has always been important to Chris Allison, founder of Roma Restaurant in Greeley.

He actually met his wife, Toni, working at a Roma location in Thornton, and they later opened Greeley's first Roma Restaurant near the University of Northern Colorado in 1988. What started as a classic mom-and-pop shop eventually grew into three more locations in west Greeley, Evans and Windsor over the span of nearly 30 years.

Throughout the expansion, a family-friendly environment always came first, Allison said.

Allison's son, Christopher, 26, grew up around that legacy of flying pizza dough, melted cheese and pepperoni slices.

“What we bring to the table is a newer outlook on certain things. We’re in a competitive market and we’re going to make sure we’re keeping up with that.

— Christopher Allison, Roma co-owner

Now, he'll be one of two continuing the family business. Chris stepped down as owner of the franchise at the beginning of this year. Long-time Roma employee Josh Ball will accompany Christopher as co-owner of the Greeley brand.

Chris said he's thankful for the more than 900 employees who made his business the legacy it is. But for him, it's time for a new adventure — whatever that ends up being.

"The business is better served with an injection of youth," Chris said. "My passion to run the business was waning, and it needed some new blood."

The new owners will take on the west Greeley, Evans and Windsor locations. Chris sold his original downtown location in 2008 in an attempt to "semi-retire." Josh will act as the operations manager while Christopher will take care of the information technology/marketing aspect of the business.

Christopher is an aerospace engineer who works for a firm near Boulder, which is partly why he and Ball will tag-team the business. But it was important to Christoper to keep Roma in the family. Ball, 33, has worked for the restaurant for 12 years and essentially served as regional manager for the business' three locations.

Overall, the co-owners said there will be minimal changes to Roma's business model. Customers can still expect their favorite dishes on the menu and the family-friendly environment. And don't worry, the Bazookas aren't going anywhere.

"We want to be as successful as (Chris) has been with the business," Ball said. "We want it to still be that family-owned local pizza place that everyone loves."

But Christopher said he wants to fine-tune some ways to market the business that will cater to today's technological world. Chris never had to deal with social media or maintaining an online presence when running his business. That's something he knows his son and Ball can capitalize on, given their millennial natures.

"What we bring to the table is a newer outlook on certain things," Christopher said. "We're in a competitive market and we're going to make sure we're keeping up with that."

It's important to the new owners to keep family a priority in Roma's business model, too. Christopher remembers helping his dad out in the restaurant's kitchen as a kid. Ball met his wife, Becky, in 2004 working at the restaurant, and they now have their own little Roma family that finds comfort in the restaurants' walls. And that's only one of about nine "Roma romances" Chris can recall from his many years in the business.

Families definitely contributed to Roma's success, he said, whether they were his faithful employees or regular customers.

Chris still will offer his two cents for the business when he sees fit. But he's stepping back and letting Roma's newest owners dive in head first.

After all, he's set. He negotiated free Roma pizza for life — a prize well earned.

"Nothing's changing," Chris said. "I'm turning this over to two young men that I know are going to take over and keep running it the way it was."

Roma locations

» Greeley West: 5750 10th St.; (970) 353-6541

» Windsor: 1039 Main St.; (970) 833-5908

» Evans: 3625 23rd Ave.; (970) 515-5706

For more information, go to http://romarestaurantco.com/.