Fasta Pasta Owner Uses his Noodle to Succeed, Friday is Free Pasta Day
At one time, the building at 157 W. College Ave. housed parcels, postage and post office boxes.
Now, it's the home of pasta, sauces and olive oil.
The former Pleasant Gap Post Office now houses the Fasta Pasta and Ravioli Co. Bob Ricketts, owner of Fasta Pasta, converted the post office into the local pasta shop. It's been at the location for nearly a year now.
“We were doing a delivery to the Red Horse Tavern nearly two years ago and saw the building after the post office closed,” Ricketts said. “It was just a perfect fit.”
Converting an old post office into a modern pasta shop was not an easy task, Ricketts said.
“It was pretty involved. It took about a year from when we first saw the building to what people see today,” he said.
Fasta Pasta, which also has a location in downtown State College at 129 S. Fraser St., offers something for every foodie. There is, of course, about every type of pasta imaginable, from angel hair to fettuccine to ravioli. There are also a variety of homemade sauces — tomato, tomato basil, marina, Fasta diablo and creamy vodka are among the options to top the homemade pasta.
“The concept is to take the best products that are at the farmers markets and have another venue to sell them,” Ricketts said matter-of-factly.
But make no mistake about it — Fasta Pasta is all about the pasta.
“We've got 60 different types of pasta that we make ranging from egg fettuccine to orange jalapeno,” Ricketts said. “And we've got around 40 different types of ravioli of which we've usually got 15 to 20 in stock ranging from classic ricotta cheese to a braised short rib.”
If it sounds like Ricketts is passionate about pasta, it's because he is. He knows that nothing compares to fresh pasta.
“Even the 'fresh' pasta you get at the grocery store has a 90-day shelf life. Anything that is good for 90 days and is sold as fresh … that doesn't really seem right,” he said.
At Fasta Pasta, the pasta is made on site and sold fresh. If it doesn't sell within a couple of days, it's taken off the shelves.
“We can make as small of a batch as six pounds and as big of a batch as 25 pounds. We try to cycle our inventory every three days. We have a loss factor built in so we can ensure that the customer gets an incredibly fresh product,” Ricketts said.
Ricketts' passion for pasta led him to come up with free pasta day, which will be held at both shops from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 10. There's no catch — just show up and snag a free pound of egg or wheat fettuccine.
“It's to celebrate the start of farmers market and season and to say thank you for patronizing us. It's an excuse for us to give you a pound of product and let the product speak for itself,” he said. “Last year, we gave away around 530 pounds of pasta. This year, we're hoping to give away around 1,000 pounds. Just come in and get it. It's just a fun event.”
Ricketts, 29, is a graduate of Penn State's School of Hospitality. Fasta Pasta actually started out as a college project, he explained.
“In English class, I wrote a business plan. My senior semester, my advisor, Dr. (Peter) Bordi, who runs the Center for Food Innovation on campus, let me get a little pasta machine and set it up in his research kitchen and develop my recipes,” Ricketts said.
After graduation, Ricketts put his business plan in motion.
“I took a year after graduation and developed my soft skills at the Nittany Lion Inn … just in terms of management style, hiring and things of that nature. I saw a 'for rent' sign, I went and looked at the space and I said 'this is perfect.' At that point I was just planning to do farmers markets and wholesale,” Ricketts said.
The downtown shop was so successful, Ricketts said, that he decided to branch out and put one in Pleasant Gap.
The response has been extremely positive, he said.
“It's been great. The local community is great. A lot of unique things happened in a close period of time that created a synergy that made for a great thing. Village Eatinghouse (opened) … Melanie and Clay (Phillips) do a great job there. Red Horse Tavern's chef, Justin, was one of the first chefs I ever worked with when he was at the Carnegie House. Having all three create a synergy that you couldn't match if you tried,” Ricketts said.
Both the Village Eatinghouse and Red Horse Tavern will use pasta from Fasta Pasta in their pasta dishes. Having a friendly relationship with his neighbors has certainly paid dividends for Ricketts. With that in mind, he sells a variety of items at his shop — not just pastas, sauces and olive oils. Ricketts also sells Sweet Heat Gourmet barbecue sauces, Goot Essa cheeses, as well as Hogs Galore and Way Fruit Farm products.
IF YOU GO
What: Fasta Pasta and Ravioli Company's Free Pasta Day
Where: Two locations, 129 S. Fraser St., State College and 157 W. College Ave., Pleasant Gap
When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., May 10
More info: fasta-co.com
Cost: None. Patrons will be given a free pound of egg or wheat fettuccine pasta.