In the heart of downtown Canton, a new restaurant has “popped” up in the historic Jones building: Palermo’s Original Pasta & Sandwiches. Shortened to “POPS,” the restaurant is owned by Andy Palermo and his family. POPS offers fresh pasta, gourmet salads and sandwiches, and a weekday breakfast menu.

A few steps away from Cannon Park, POPS is located inside the recently remodeled Jones building. In a nod to the history of the location, mid-century modern furniture and a warm-toned color palette bring a cozy yet open look to the space. Charming jazz music plays on the overhead speakers. Customers are greeted with a smile once they step over the Love Local welcome mat.

“This community has embraced us so incredibly well, far surpassing any expectation Amber and I ever had,” says owner Andy Palermo. Andy runs POPS with his wife, Amber, and with the help of their two kids, Agnes and Augustine. POPS emerged from Andy’s love for his family and taste for Italian food.

Photo Credit: Abigail Hayman/Enjoy Cherokee Magazine

P.O.P.S. co-owner Andy Palermo poses with his two children, Augustine and Agnes.

A dream fulfilled

While growing up in Connecticut, Andy was surrounded by Italian restaurants, one of which was even his first employer when he started out bussing tables. Since then, he’s consistently worked in the restaurant industry. Now, in Canton, opening POPS has fulfilled a long-term dream of his.

“I think most folks who work in this industry have aspirations to have their own restaurant,” he says. “I’ve always had that in the back of my mind, to have my own family-owned operation. But for me, my strongest motivation has been establishing something close to home, where we could serve our own friends and neighbors.”

POPS Canton Ribbon Cutting / Photo Credit: Raymond Werner/Enjoy Cherokee Magazine

The Palermo family and P.O.P.S. supporters celebrated a ribbon cutting with the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, February 27, 2024.

With vision and values

Serving friends and neighbors lies at the heart of the vision of POPS. Andy and Amber’s list of values for the restaurant focuses on treating customers as guests, emphasizing productivity and positivity, and centering family within the restaurant. From the family photos on the wall to the occasional check-in from Agnes or Augustine, POPS is truly a family-run business.

POPS also aims to maintain an air of authenticity. Located within the restaurant is a miniature market, which features a wide variety of eye-catching and unique goods, most of which are imported from Italy. Here customers can purchase everything from olive oils to balsamic pearls to pasta-making tools. Truffles and other treats are also available for sale, since the restaurant’s dessert menu is still evolving. The first dessert on the menu: housemade New York-style cheesecake.

On display in the market is “Nonna,” named for the Italian word for “grandma.” Nonna is a pasta-making machine, a smaller version of the machine in the kitchen.

While he’s never been a chef professionally, Andy’s prior experience in the restaurant industry allowed him to combine his curiosity and love for cooking with the opportunity to work with highly-skilled chefs. “Andy ran all of Chef Ford Fry’s Supericas, like a fifth-degree black belt in culinary art,” says Penn Hodge, the developer for the location.

“If I didn’t have this restaurant, I’d be at home cooking the same meals,” Andy jokes. “It’s the food I love to eat and the food I love to cook.”

Andy and his family are thrilled to be working in the Canton community, serving the food they love to the people they love.

Palermo’s Original Pasta & Sandwiches, P.O.P.S., is located at 130 East Main Street, Suite 206, in Canton.

 

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