"One man brings Italian, Greek and Mediterranean mix to South Campus at Venus and Slice of Italy"
For those who can’t decide between a Hawaiian pizza and a garlic-flavored souvlaki wrap, Jack Adly has given them both.
Adly, the owner of two South Campus hotspots, has been involved with the food industry most of his life. His first job at age 14 was at a pizzeria in Jersey City, New Jersey. But Adly isn’t just tossing pies anymore – he’s calling the shots. The 25-year-old entrepreneur balances classes at Buffalo State College with his budding businesses and even has his eyes on law school.
But for Adly, it’s still about the food. He is from Cairo, Egypt and lived in Queens, New York and New Jersey. In 2007, he came to Buffalo following his family and looking for a “comfortable place to live.” In 2010, he created Slice of Italy and Venus Greek and Mediterranean in hopes of turning them into lucrative franchises.
“To me, cooking is art,” Adly said. “I can never get tired of it or bored. I wish I had more time in my day to [cook] more.”
Slice of Italy is intended for the college crowd – a place to grab food late at night after bar hopping. Adly said Venus is meant to have a wider appeal as a family friendly restaurant.
Adly, who’s currently a junior criminal justice major, had always wanted to open his own restaurant. His father told him that a friend was selling a restaurant called The Chicken Run. Adly made a deal with the owner and started creating his own menu right away, eventually resulting in Venus.
There are two Slice of Italy locations near South Campus. One is located on 3171 Main St. and the other is located on 3500 Main St. along with Venus in the University Plaza, right across from the South Campus bus stop.
Adly created and still manages both Slice of Italy locations, but he recently sold them to his brother, Joseph Gergeus.
“Having family in the business makes it a lot stronger, so in August 2014 we made the sale,” Adly said.
Adly handed over the keys to his brother so he could devote more of his time to Venus.
Venus’ Mediterranean food is mainly Egyptian recipes. Lebanese and Iraqi dishes influence a portion of the menu, too.
“The biggest thing that shows me we are successful is seeing a lot of returned customers, even those who have been here since day one,” Adly said.
The customers’ favorites are gyros, falafels, baklavas, Greek fries, souvlaki and shawarma wraps, according to Adly.
With ease, he rattles of his most popular dishes’ components. The souvlaki wraps are made with meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, homemade garlic sauce and feta cheese.
The shawarma wraps have meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, turnips and homemade garlic sauce. Almost everything on the menu is less than $10.
“Our food has very strong and well-seasoned flavors,” said Gomana Guiguis, manager of Venus.
When walking into Venus, Adly describes the atmosphere as cultural, with belly dancing music and the smell of oregano hitting you as soon as you walk through the door.
Their busiest hours are from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Customers have to call ahead of time to order so that their food is fresh, Guiguis said.
“We have so many customers who come in at least three times a week for a souvlaki or a Greek salad,” Guiguis added.
Slice of Italy’s pizza is famous for its thin crust, drawing transplant students from the New York City area craving a taste of home.
“Slice of Italy is great for college students going in and out of bars when nothing else is open that late,” said Evan Pantofel, a junior business major.
Pantofel usually orders the chicken shawarma at Venus or the loaded burger at Slice of Italy. The fact that they’re on South Campus makes it a favorite because of its easy access, he said.
“I’ve kept [Slice] open this long only on the weekends because of the college students,” Adly said. And it’s a regular spot for students to grab something late at night, earing it a four-star rating on Yelp.
Pantofel is a regular customer because of the food, prices and good customer service, he said.
In Guirguis’ four years of working at Venus, she said she’s barely ever received complaints.
Although pepperoni pizza and gyros are different, Adly said that the main similarity between the two restaurants is their customer service and quality of food.
“The simplest foods need to be great quality,” Adly said. “Customer service is key because I never want customers to have a bad experience with the employees.”
Adly spends most of his time working at Venus and hopes to expand the restaurant to North Campus and Rochester, New York, stretching the restaurant’s reach.
Running two restaurants while completing the requirements to apply to law school is stressful, but Adly enjoys the challenge because it brings a sense of achievement.
Even if Adly’s law career picks up in the future, he plans to never let go of food.
“I’m not letting go of Venus because I love it and other people love it too much,” Adly said. “As far as Slice of Italy, I enjoyed opening the place but I don’t plan on being there as long.”
Adly’s main goal for the future is to see Venus grow into at least five more restaurants in Western New York.
“I’ve never heard anyone give Venus or Slice of Italy bad reviews,” Pantofel said. “They’re both good places worth trying.”