Welcome to the Zolo’s Family
Article by Brianna Melanson
Photography by Samuel Herb
Originally published in Franklin Lifestyle
Zolo’s Italian Restaurant was a regular dining spot for Johnny Weber and his longtime friend and business partner Cam Harrington. Zolo’s has been in downtown Franklin for over 15 years. The location has always been a quaint Italian restaurant, originally named Antonio’s and then Palazzolo’s and finally shortened to Zolo’s in 2007.
When they noticed Zolo’s was closed last summer, Johnny called the previous owner and chef, Brian Holmes, to check in on him. Brian explained that he was ready to sell and Johnny instantly decided to buy it with a promise to continue serving their beloved family recipes. Johnny had never owned a restaurant before, so he brought on Cam, who has been in the food industry for over 24 years. They also own the Juice Bar together off of 5th Avenue.
Before reopening, Johnny and Cam worked hard to hire new line cooks, deep clean, and make some cosmetic renovations to enhance the restaurant, but keep the charm the community grew up with, such as the white and red checkered tablecloths. They collaborated with Brian to get all of the homemade recipes written down in detail, as he had them all memorized, so they could be recreated and passed down for generations to come.
All of the classics from the chicken parmesan to lasagna are made to order and the bread is freshly baked locally. The Spicy Tortellini Diablo is a crowd favorite and Johnny’s go-to on the menu. Customers also love to start with calamari and the hand-breaded mozzarella sticks with a side of their incredible red sauce. Guests will enjoy a taste of Italy with every bite. Zolo’s hosts up to 50 people and the dim lighting and intimate atmosphere make for the perfect date night. The staff is always happy to give their wine recommendations to pair with the upscale take on Italian comfort food.
Zolo’s remains family-owned and operated. Johnny has two sons, a 23 and 25-year-old who help in the restaurant. It’s important to him that they learn how to take care of people and run a successful business. Guests will also be greeted by Johnny’s father as you enter the restaurant. Johnny says, “It’s fun to see him at Juice Bar in the mornings and at Zolo’s at night. He opens the door for people as they come in or as they leave to make it that southern hospitality experience.”
The family strives to make sure all of their customers receive excellent service. Cam says, “Having the Juice Bar and Zolo’s gives us a big footprint in downtown Franklin. The local business owners, neighbors, and tourists we meet on a day-to-day basis has been incredible.” They hope that all guests will leave feeling like part of the Zolo’s family.