There's no reward without risk, Robert Means knows - but with good food, attentive service and a unique menu of specialty pizzas, Palio's Pizza Café at 6611 S. Broadway Ave. could become destination dining for Tyler and beyond.
"The restaurant environment in Tyler is very, very competitive right now," said Means, a commercial real estate broker who has several other Palio's Pizza Cafes in the Dallas and Fort Worth area. "So much of a restaurant's success or failure is about quality and service. If you're executing those things well, you have a far better chance of success."
The formula isn't complicated, he said.
"If the customer has a good experience with friendly, prompt service and they like the food, they'll come again," he said.
Palio's, which has been open for just a few weeks, has pastas and salads, but the real standout is the menu of specialty pizzas.
The Classic, for example, has roasted chicken, Roma tomatoes, fresh basil, crushed garlic and mozzarella cheese.
Some of the pizzas are named for customers, who suggested the ingredients. There's Frank's Buffalo Chicken pizza, Grace's Alfredo pizza, and Maria's BBQ Chicken pizza.
"We're seeing a lot of interest in pizzas that look a little different from the big chains," Means said. "We always have a big demand for pepperoni, of course, but we're seeing interest in more creative pizzas. And we even take suggestions."
Means has brought in Kalob Martinez, who manages one of his other restaurants, to open the Tyler location and ensure it has a good start.
"Good staff is hard to find, in any economy," Means said. "But they're especially hard to find in a highly competitive market like we have. Still, we've brought in some good people who know what they're doing."
The restaurant has an extensive gluten-free menu. It is family-friendly and doesn't serve alcohol.
Palio's hours are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.