Sometimes it takes a near-death episode to recalibrate your life.
That happened to Tina Pulich in December when her fiance Robert Farley experienced a sudden and devastating aortic tear. After a 14-hour surgery and four months in the hospital, the couple decided to set new priorities.
On Pulich’s priority list: Find more satisfying work.
That opportunity came in September when Pulich found the former Nuckle’s Sandwiches space available on Sixth Avenue. She went to work on The Lasagna Store, Pasta & More, a business idea she’s been developing for 25 years.
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The restaurant held a soft opening Wednesday, and its grand opening will be 3-6 p.m. Saturday.
The Lasagna Store is a small cafe serving take-out and dine-in pasta meals. Later, it will add take-and-bake dinners for busy families.
Pulich’s mantra is to make as much as possible from scratch.
The fresh pasta, garlic bread spread, sauces and dressings are all her recipes.
Her work ethic sprouts from her father, who owned a decorative-balloon business in Tacoma, operated a small restaurant on South Tacoma Way and created and ran the Doo-Dah bird booths at the (then) Puyallup Fair. He also had a day job as an electrician.
The food inspiration comes from her mother, an avid cook. Pulich’s lasagna recipe has morphed over the years, but at its foundation, it’s her mother’s recipe. She remembers learning to make stroganoff, meatloaf, pies and strudel while watching her mother at work in the kitchen.
There were a lot of mouths to feed.
Pulich is the youngest of seven children with the next oldest sibling five years older. They all attended Stadium High School. Pulich is a lifelong North Ender.
Her menu at the Lasagna Store will include lasagna, spaghetti and fettuccine meals priced around $10.95 to $15.95 with lunch or dinner-sized portions. All meals come with Caesar (or spinach) salad and two slices of her specialty bread.
Lasagna choices include a tomato sauce made with sausage, a meatless traditional-style tomato sauce, white sauce with chicken and a vegetarian sauce with spinach. Fettuccine will come with a plain sauce or one made with chicken. Spaghetti has a choice of sausage or the meatless, traditional sauce, or a choice of butter with Parmesan cheese.
The store part of the business probably will come after the end of this year. After she expands and adds a large walk-in cooler, she’ll package lasagna and other family-sized pasta meals to go. Her goal is to be a healthier substitute for drive-thru dinners.
The cafe is small, with seating for about 20 at five tables. It’s carved into a tiny, low-slung building across the street from Walgreens.
Much of the work space will be dedicated to pasta making, which Pulich will do with a pasta machine and by hand. She also plans to make and offer gluten-free pastas for a surcharge.
The Lasagna Store, Pasta & More
Where: 4312-A Sixth Ave, Tacoma
Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays
Serving: A menu of lasagna, spaghetti and fettuccine for dine-in or take-out
Contact: 253-292-1483, 253-302-3659; facebook.com/thelasagnalady