The making of Pasta Flyer
The dream of “pasta for the people” boiled up in Ladner’s mind nearly five years ago, while he was the executive chef of Del Posto. In 2014, he launched the first iteration of Pasta Flyer as a side hustle. Ladner and his business partner, Nastassia Lopez raised $85,000 via Kickstarter and used the funds to tour six college campuses in six states, selling quick-service, gluten-free pasta and using sales data from Square to build a business plan.
In the year that followed, Lopez enrolled in business school, developed the model, and found an investor. Ladner focused on the pasta.
“It started with my love, and hers as well, for pasta -- specifically dry pasta,” Ladner tells me in his restaurant one afternoon; it was empty, because so far it’s only open for dinner, with Ladner working the line most nights. “For the last 20 years I’ve focused on making pasta my specialty. Working with Mario [Batali] and Joe [Bastianich], I always sort of felt, especially coming from really high-end dining, that there was no reason that people who aren’t wealthy shouldn’t have access to really good pasta.”