Story by Cynthia McFarland | Photo by Joshua Jacobs
When David and Jodi Alexander left south Florida and moved to central Florida in 2019, they were eager for a more rural and family-focused place to call home. They also found a business opportunity in Ocala that perfectly fit their family.
Florida Pizza Stop originally opened in October 2020; the Alexanders purchased and re-branded the eatery in May 2021. “We are Christians and wanted to be in a business that brings people together and makes them happy. Food does that,” says David.
Small Hands Helping
The Alexanders’ oldest son Jaelen (21) is in the U.S. Navy, while their three youngest children–Paris (15), Milan (14), and David III (6)–enjoy being involved with the family restaurant. “We have other staff, but our kids definitely like helping at the shop. It’s really life lessons for them. They’re learning about the importance of serving customers and the community, as well as entrepreneurship,” says David. “Our customers love seeing the family dynamic in action. This shop is a lot of long days and late nights, but it’s been a complete blessing.”
Paris and Milan are thrilled that their first jobs as teens are in the family business. “We make our marinara and dough fresh daily, and Milan helps make the dough,” says Jodi. “She wants to open a bakery, and this has sealed her passion for that.”
New York, New York
The Alexanders pride themselves on offering delicious food, excellent customer service and great value. “Our customers are able to come in with their families and walk away with leftovers, feeling they got their money’s worth,” says David.
As Jodi is originally from New York, the Alexanders make New York-style pizza, featuring thin crisp crust with just the right amount of cheese, sauce, and toppings. With 17 different pizzas, the menu includes traditional options, such as their heavily-loaded, sandwich-style pepperoni, as well as more unpredictable choices, like Jerk Chicken, Shrimp Scampi, and even Mac and Cheese pizza. The menu also features strombolis, calzones, baked subs, pasta dishes, salads, low-carb bowls (featuring meat, veggies, and sauce), garlic knots, and cinna knots.
“We have customers who avoid carbs most of the time but on their ‘cheat day,’ they come to us and love the garlic knots,” smiles David.
In addition to providing a fun spot with satisfying meals, the Alexanders are enthusiastic about contributing to their community. They recently sponsored a teacher appreciation day with free pizza and salad for Creative Beginnings, a preschool in the neighboring plaza. They invite schools to hold family nights at Florida Pizza Stop and plan to provide local schools with meal vouchers.
The Alexanders are currently writing and filming a reality show for kids; they just shot the pilot in mid-November. With plans to post it on YouTube and social media, their dream is to partner with Food Network or another broadcast company to get it televised nationally.
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