November 23, 2014

Elyria
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Granny D’s is back, with new name

Pizza parlor was closed when owner was killed

LORAIN — It’s been a while since so many people flowed through the doors of the former Granny D’s Pizza.

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JASON MILLER / CHRONICLE
Daniel Nutt, the new owner of D’Tutanelli’s, formerly Granny D’s Pizza, takes a pie out of the oven Tuesday.

On Monday, the staff was overwhelmed by customers at the small, newly reopened pizza parlor — renamed D’Tutanelli’s Pizza, Pasta and Wings — off East Erie Avenue. Requests for pizza that residents thought they might never taste again were being hurled at teenage cashiers over the phone and in person.

The restaurant shut down June 23, the day its owner, 43-year-old David Kowalczyk, was gunned down inside the shop during what police said was a robbery. Three men have been charged in connection with the shooting, and they also have been tied to two other robberies at local gas stations. They’re awaiting trial.

The shop reopened Monday with new owners, 23-year-old Dan Nutt and his fiancee, Khristal Kramer, 27.

“It was a very good turnout,” Nutt said as he waited for the pizza ovens to warm up for his second day on the job Tuesday. “It was extremely overwhelming, but a lot of people showed up, and I got a lot of comments from people who were glad we opened up.”
Kramer said people called the shop for the last two weeks wondering when it would open. Whetted by a “Reopening Soon” sign placed on the front of the building about two months ago — which replaced a sign saying Kowalczyk will be missed — customers were hungry for their favorite pie.

And the new owners didn’t disappoint.

All the recipes were given to them by Kowalczyk’s family except for the pasta sauce, which the couple borrowed from a secret family blend.

“People were so used to it. They didn’t want it to end,” Kramer said.

Kramer and her cousins worked at the shop until it closed. When Kowalczyk’s family announced they would be selling the building, Nutt immediately agreed to buy it.

“Anyone could have bought it, and it could have become a storage facility,” Nutt said. “We didn’t want that.”

Armed with business experience — Nutt has owned a flooring company, real estate company and is a landlord, while Kramer purchased Brownie’s Market in Lorain about six months ago — the couple purchased the restaurant and renovated it, making the lobby larger than before.

Aside from the sauce, the only other change is the name of the restaurant. A new sign bearing the name of Nutt’s grandfather, D’Tutanelli, will cover the post above the front door soon.

The Granny D’s Pizza sign it will replace will be moved to the lobby wall inside the restaurant, above of picture of Kowalczyk.
“I felt as if Granny D’s was synonymous with Dave, and I’m not trying to replace that,” Nutt said.

Contact Adam Wright at 653-6257 or awright@chroniclet.com.