As part of our Five Question Friday series, Hard Knox Pizzeria owner Alexa Sponcia and Andy with Wyatt Insurance discuss Alexa’s experience as a female business owner, Hard Knox’s community involvement, and the effects the pandemic has had on their restaurant. In 2014, only a year after marriage, Alexa became the owner of Hard Knox, which was also her first date with her husband and their favorite restaurant. Four years after becoming the owner of the Bearden location, she started to expand the pizzeria to the Hardin Valley community. Hard Knox’s two locations serve fresh, creative, and locally sourced hand-crafted, wood-fired pizza.
1. What brought you to Knoxville and Hard Knox Pizzeria?
Originally from Florida, Alexa was looking for a change and decided to take a chance and move to Knoxville to join one of her friends who lived here. After moving to Knoxville, Alexa met her now-husband, Paul, where they went to Hard Knox for their first date. They married in 2013 and one year later in 2014, Alexa had the opportunity to purchase Hard Knox. Alexa learned the business from the ground up and she then began upgrading the brand, refining their company culture, and engaging with the community.
2. What is it like to be a female business owner?
As a female business owner Alexa has the heart and drive to build up leaders and show the younger generation that women are able to do hard and creative things, like successfully owning and running a business.
3. How is Hard Knox Pizza involved in the community?
One of the seven values of Hard Knox is, “love of community.” In 2015, they developed a culinary program, “The School of Hard Knox,” which allows under-served youth in the Knoxville community to have the opportunity to experience career education, food service exposure, and a sense of hope. Her current manager started in the program and has worked his way up to general manager.
4. How has Hard Knox navigated throughout the pandemic?
Running a restaurant business during COVID-19 has taught Alexa how her team of employees and the Knoxville community are resilient. The pandemic introduced new challenges and a shut-down, but her team learned to pivot and serve a fresh pizza selection to the supportive community in a safe environment.
5. Where can I find out more information about Hard Knox Pizzeria?
Visit Hard Knox Pizzeria at either two of their locations, Bearden or Hardin Valley, for dine-in, carry-out, or curbside pick-up!