YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A little scoop of happiness is coming to Youngstown. A local Youngstown State University student is opening his third gelato shop inside Penguin City.
“Yes, uh, craziness,” that’s how Alex Papa describes his decision to open two gelato shops in three years. Like many college students, Papa spends his time juggling classes, extracurriculars and a job. His job just so happens to be running a full-time business – Papa Gelateria.
“I just get fun out of working. I love starting up these little things. I love scooping my gelato,” he said.
Next spring, he’s expanding into Youngstown. Papa was looking for a place to host an event with his fraternity at YSU when he met the owners of Penguin City. He mentioned he owns a gelato company and the rest was history.
“It just seems like a really family-friendly and happy, small business community to do business in, so I’m really excited,” Papa said.
Penguin City co-owner Aspasia Lyras-Bernacki said they are looking to help entrepreneurs.
“We really want to raise up people, entrepreneurs that are coming in and trying to get their start here. It’s so hard in Youngstown to get your start,” she said.
Papa’s gelato business started with a trip to visit family in Italy. He became obsessed with the denser, richer version of ice cream. In 2019, when he was still in high school, he decided to open a store.
Papa took over his dad’s long-closed gelato store in New Castle and opened Papa Gelateria seasonally.
“None of them thought I was going to do it, and then they see me out here painting and remodeling the inside and the next thing we know, I’m filing the paperwork to open up,” Papa said.
In 2021, Papa expanded into New Wilmington with a year-round storefront. He hopes his location in Penguin City will open in the spring and will hand off his New Wilmington location.
Though he plans on becoming a lawyer, Papa says he’s far from done with gelato and wants to go into wholesale.
“Grocery stores, even just supplying small businesses,” he said.