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PART 2: First date for Sponcias is the restaurant they now own

Sponcias(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second article in a three-part series focused on Alexa and Paul Sponcia, Knoxville business owners who are giving back to the community in so many ways.)

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

“Our first real date was to Hard Knox Pizzeria,” Alexa Sponcia says of the restaurant in Western Plaza founded in 2009 by Dean and Jill Bastian. The year was 2012.

Fast forward a couple of years, Alexa and Paul have married, and they are thinking about opening a restaurant. After all, Alexa had worked for restaurants in Florida for a number of years, and Paul had two brothers in the business.

“We wanted to start one and had multiple concepts in mind,” Paul says. As they were contemplating options, they learned that the Bastians had hired a franchising company to explore that option for growing Hard Knox.

“He came home one day and says we should buy a franchise,” Alexa says with Paul quickly adding, “We got to know them (the Bastians) better and offered to buy the concept, not a franchise. I wanted to buy it because of the food.”

The date they acquired Hard Knox was Halloween Day 2014.

“You never know what you have until you have it,” Paul says of the venture into which the couple has been for a little more than a year. “We have amazing people in our restaurant.”

Alexa is in charge of all operations at the restaurant where she has what she describes as an “incredible team that is there day-today that I trust and am thankful for.

“We should treat those who come into the restaurant the same as those who come into our home,” Alexa believes.

That philosophy of treating people the right way extends to the information that the Sponcias share with the Hard Knox employees.

“We are an open book when it comes to financials,” Paul says. “We teach them about revenue, COGS (cost of goods sold) and how each ties into the numbers. Hard Knox has been this really fun learning experience.”

The Sponcias expect to eventually expand the number of locations, but with a clear philosophy espoused on their webpage. They want to locate new restaurants in old buildings they can repurpose in local neighborhoods while utilizing “the craftsmanship of old world culinary methods through new concepts.”

The approaches they are taking in their businesses and in several civic pursuits are based on strongly held religious beliefs.

NEXT: Their passion about Jesus and the way it drives their professional and personal lives.


Tom Ballard

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer,
Pershing Yoakley & Associates. P.C.

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