Alexandria, VA

After three years in business, Adriana Penachio-Sifakis is ready for growth, and that means franchising.

At just 700 square feet, her sub shop and market The Italian Place (621 Wythe Street) can get busy fast, but customers don’t wait too long. A new self-serving kiosk in the shop and online ordering have made for a quicker experience, she says, and those who choose to stick around for a few minutes might get carried away by the dulcet tones of Frank Sinatra while perusing the market full of gourmet Italian products.

Now Penachio-Sifakis is working with the Alexandria-based Fransmart to offer franchising opportunities in the D.C. area. She is also looking on corporate expansion, and last week toured five locations in high-traffic urban areas in D.C.  Next week she will look at locations in Arlington and Tysons Corner.

“It’s important to be in the right location, in a high-traffic area with lots of people who want to get something to eat quickly, who want something fresh,” Penachio-Sifakis told ALXnow. “Since the beginning, people fell in love with the place and it continued to grow, from locals to people visiting from out of town, and they’d tell me, ‘I want an Italian Place on my street corner, in my neighborhood.'”

In order to franchise, Penachio-Sifakis had to disclose financial statements that show The Italian Place has room for growth. She said that it has been challenging for her as a first-time business owner and the mother of three children. Still, she is encouraging female entrepreneurs to pursue franchising with her company.

“Being a woman and a mom and balancing life and a business is something that I pushed myself to do to show my children that anyone can do what they want to do if they have a passion,” she said. “Just because I’m a woman also makes a big difference. It might be more challenging, but it adds a friendly and lovely essence to The Italian Place.”

Lunch at The Italian Place averages between $10 to $13 with chips and a drink. The Eva sub, which is made from mortadella sausage, salami, provolone cheese, tomatoes, onions, banana peppers, lettuce, olive oil and seasonings, is one of the most popular items on the menu.

Penachio-Sifakis said that Italian food — and culture — is her passion.

“I love watching people dance to Louis Prima or Sinatra while they wait for their sandwich at the register,” she said. “Growing up Italian and being in a family that is in hospitality-mode hosting parties and events and cooking fresh meals all the time, it’s not unusual for me to run a small gourmet market that’s extremely popular. People come in and know it’s real and authentic.”

Photo via The Italian Place/Facebook

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