BY REBECCA COFFMAN & BRANDON DOYLE
FEB. 27, 2012
ITHACA, NY – In a strategic business move, Hesham Oulida has expanded the menu of what was previously known as Ameritalia Pizzeria of the Ithaca Commons to include Mediterranean cuisine. The restaurant is now called Casa Blanca Pizzeria and Mediterranean Cuisine.
“We decided to change the menu and remodel the place, and put our recipes on [the menu] to bring Mediterranean cuisine up to Ithaca,” said Oulida.
Oulida, former manager of Ameritalia, recently bought the business from its previous owners and renamed, remodeled, and revamped the restaurant during the past two months.
New additions to the menu include falafels, kabobs, and shawarama. Overall, Oulida has found that customers are enjoying the change.
“I like the addition of Mediterranean food, and the pizza is still the same,” said Mark Rudovic, a former Ameritalia regular and student at Ithaca College.
Oulida has chosen to keep the “Ameritalia” sign in front of the pizzeria in order to help retain customers during the transition.
“The name change didn’t discourage me from continuing to come to Ameritalia; the food is still as good as it was before,” said Ivana Milutin, an Urban Outfitters employee.
According to Oulida, Casa Blanca has seen an approximate 20 percent profit increase since the change. He is currently working on advertising with Ithaca College students and also hopes to extend his customer base to Cornell University.
Oulida became interested in Mediterranean cuisine while watching his mother cook during his childhood in Morocco. The restaurant is named after the city where Oulida was born, Casa Blanca, and is now one of two Mediterranean restaurants in the Ithaca Commons.