At Angelo’s, state celebrates reopening of restaurants

At Angelo’s, state celebrates reopening of restaurants

As the Kitsilis family and elected officials look on, Celina cuts the ribbon on the reopened and family-owned Angelo’s Palace Pizza last Friday. (Breeze photo by Kayla Panu)

CUMBERLAND – The R.I. Hospitality Association and its board of directors officially celebrated the full reopening of the hospitality industry last Friday with the unveiling of the family-owned Angelo’s Palace Pizza’s newly expanded outdoor space and complete dining room renovation.

Angelo’s, which is co-owned by RIHA Vice Chairman Bill Kitsilis, has been a staple in northern Rhode Island for more than 40 years.

In attendance with co-owner Kitsilis was the rest of his family including his mom and sister, as well as Gov. Dan McKee and Cumberland Mayor Jeffrey Mutter and members of the RIHA.

“We’re super excited about today,” Kitsilis said before the ribbon was cut. “We’ve been in business for 43 years. My mom and dad started it way back in 1978. We totally transformed the place. We’re so psyched to be coming out of the pandemic with almost all the restrictions gone.”

The family unveiled a new interior look and a new robot, Servi, used to help bring food and drinks back and forth between the kitchen and the dining area.

“What we did was we were looking at the fact that we see so many servers going back and forth to the kitchen to get food and bring it to their tables, that 33 percent of their time, on average, based on studies and I’ve timed it, is wasted walking around and not spending time with their guests,” Kitsilis said.

He said they figured they could have Servi get food to the tables for the servers so employees can spend more one-on-one time with the guests. “So we look at it as kind of a service multiplier,” said Kitsilis.

He said he is always looking for innovative additions for the restaurant. Over the years, he has had automatic conveyor ovens and an automatic pizza saucer in the kitchen. The next step was to help out servers. He said he Googled restaurant robots and found a U.S.-based company, Bear Robotics, and decided he wanted one. This is the first robot server in Rhode Island and all of New England, he said, but they are found elsewhere.

To start its new gig, Servi had its top full of drinks for the reopening and a pizza on the second shelf.

Kitsilis explained how Servi works.

“The robot goes back to its home base by the expo line (in the kitchen) and food gets on it. The expediter hits what table that food is supposed to go to and it goes to the side of the table. The servers know their sections and they go there and help serve the food to the customers. Once it unloads, Servi knows to go back to the expo line. It’s pretty cool and exciting.”

The Kitsilis family and invited guests including Mutter and McKee stood outside by the entrance and made speeches before Kitsilis had daughter Celina cut the ribbon with help from her grandmother, Christine Kitsilis.

Christine welcomed everybody before turning it over to her son. Bill, after briefly speaking, turned it over to McKee, a Cumberland resident and former mayor and friend of the Kitsilis family.

“This is just an example of the resilience of our small businesses in the state of Rhode Island,” the governor said. “Bill’s been a national champion for the small businesses as well.”

Mutter congratulated the Kitsilis family before Celina cut the ribbon and the restaurant was reopened for business.

There is an outdoor seating area before walking into the restaurant where the bar awaits. To the right is a dining area and at the back there is a much bigger dining area.

Kitsilis said that Angelo’s would cater to guests who made reservations that night before holding a soft opening for a limited amount of people on Saturday.

Kitsilis said he probably needs about 10 more servers. The restaurant is planned to be open for dinner only from Monday to Thursday, and all day Friday through Sunday, but Kitsilis said they still don’t have enough staff to open during the day. The restaurant is still open for takeout and delivery seven days a week, he said, fully staffed in the kitchen and at the front counter.

Since Servi can’t take orders, Angelo’s still needs humans to apply.