Springfield has been without The Pasta House Co. since 2012 when local franchisee Joe Rupnik closed the location at 2800 Southwest Plaza. The building was sold to Quattro Development, which turned it into a four unit retail center. However, Rupnik retained the franchise rights and expressed intentions all along of opening in a new location. “I didn’t sell the restaurant, but it was financially a good move for me to sell the real estate,” explained Rupnik.
While he had originally hoped to reopen later that same year, Rupnik said he’s been waiting for the right location to come along. In the meantime, he has continued to own and operate The Dublin Pub, which also serves the popular salad that The Pasta House Co. was known for.
Then the Denny’s at the corner of Wabash and Veterans closed unexpectedly on New Year’s Day due to mechanical issues, although it was already scheduled to close later in January. In an interview with the State Journal-Register, franchise owner Michael Mack stated that Simon Property Group had refused to allow him to sign a long-term lease extension, which he wanted to have in place before renovating the building.
At the time, Simon Property Group, which also operates White Oaks Mall, did not indicate what they planned to do with the former Denny’s property. Rumors circulated on social media that Whataburger was coming to Springfield, although the company’s corporate office stated otherwise and said the original Facebook post by 217 Memes was a hoax.
Rupnik reached out to Simon Property Group after he heard about Denny’s closing and says he has now signed a lease for the space. “It’s a moving target, but my goal is to have it open by mid to late October,” he said.
“It will be the same, authentic Italian recipes from “The Hill,”’ Rupnik explained, referencing the origins of The Pasta House Co., which was founded in St. Louis in 1974. The company now has 16 locations throughout Missouri and Illinois.
Rupnik said he plans to hire about 80 employees for the new location. He also envisions an expansion of the family business. “All three of my kids have worked in The Pasta House Co. and two of my sons may help me run it. “