Pizza Del Re celebrates grand re-opening

After closing in 2021 and being sold in 2022, Pizza Del Re is back.
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 11:25 AM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The return of one of the Chippewa Valley’s most popular restaurants is complete.

Pizza Del Re celebrated its grand re-opening on Friday a year and a half from when it closed in September of 2021.

Pizza Del Re was founded by Keith and Sally Carlson in 1976, who owned the restaurant for 45 years before deciding to put it up for sale in 2021. The popular pizza place was purchased by Vangjel Kapbardhi, the owner of another Eau Claire establishment, Dhimiters, a Greek and Mediterranean restaurant, last April. During the transition, the previous owners and founders of Pizza Del Re helped train the new staff ahead of its reopening.

“They’ve already helped in several areas when they didn’t have to,” Kapbardhi said of the previous owners of Pizza Del Re. He said that even though the sale agreement called for some amount of training from the restaurant’s previous owners, he believes that they would have offered to help anyways and said they’ve been extremely helpful during the transition.

Kapbardhi was steadfast in saying during the last 10 months that the recipe would not be changing and that the buffet experience would be the same as before. He said that some of the changes he were in setting up online ordering, which earned Pizza Del Re a second-place finish in Volume One’s Best of the Chippewa Valley for Best Online Ordering Service. Kapbardhi said that the online ordering system was chaotic during the time the poll was open as the point-of-sale system and online ordering system were not communicating well and there were issues with internet providers, but credited his staff for making the experience as seamless as possible given the challenges at the time.

Another change that people will notice right away is that the interior has been refreshed, with new paint and ceiling tiles, Kapbardhi said that his restaurants are known for being clean, and the re-imagined setup will help keep dining spaces safe and clean.

Last October, Del Re began offering carry-out and delivery as it worked towards a full re-opening, offering frozen pizzas for customers to take and bake at home. Now, Kapbardhi said that the restaurant spends two days prepping 500 to 700 frozen pizzas early in the week, and the pizzas usually sell out by the end of the week. He suggested that if he can find a way to produce more - something that would have to be done at a facility outside of the current Del Re kitchen - the pizzas could be sold in Chippewa Valley grocery and convenience stores and other places. Kapbardhi said he’s been approached by store representatives, as well as tavern owners, about selling Pizza Del Re pizzas outside of the restaurant.

In the last few weeks, Del Re had a “soft” re-opening of its trademark buffet, filling the restaurant to capacity most nights. Kapbardhi said that the word of mouth for Pizza Del Re has been amazing and that he knew the restaurant had a dedicated following, but is still a little surprised at how quickly people have come back to enjoy everything Del Re has to offer.

For the last month. We didn’t make any official announcement, but we’ve been opening up to the public for the buffet and salad bar. Word got out quickly, so a lot of the locals came in and gave us a chance to iron out any wrinkles in the process, which was nice,” Vangjell Kapbardhi, Owner, said.

With the restaurant now open five days per week, the next step is seeking community partnerships - such as fundraisers for youth teams and other organizations in the Chippewa Valley. Kapbardhi said that being involved in the community was something the previous owners embraced and he planned on seeking out opportunities with his restaurants as well. In January, the restaurant made pizza for law enforcement on Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.

Pizza Del Re is open Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 11 a.m., closing at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. You can order online by going to the Pizza Del Re website.