The waiting was the hardest part.

After several years of not having a Fazoli’s Restaurant, the Italian restaurant chain returned to Morristown with a ribbon cutting on Monday. Keith Andrews, chairman of the Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce, said it’s another example of how the city is growing and creating jobs for its residents.

Chamber of Commerce members and other local dignitaries attended the ribbon cutting, which was not open to the public. The new location opened for business to the public today.

“It’s nice to see a restaurant like this come back to a market like (Morristown),” he said.

“Fazoli’s is proud of what our construction crews did building this restaurant,” said Robert Murphy, regional director of operations for Fazoli’s at its corporate office in Lexington, Kentucky. “We’re happy to be back in Morristown.”

K&R Italian, owned by Odus Mundy and his wife Addie of LaFollette – and named for their two children, Katie and Rudy, opened its fifth Fazoli’s in East Tennessee. Odus said it was time to bring the chain back to Morristown, and the West End was the perfect location for its return.

“Morristown is growing, and it’s a great place to be,” he said. “We want to be in an area that’s in a good 25 to 30-year growth area.

“(Morristown) was good to Fazoli’s when it was here the first time, and I think it’ll be good to it again.”

Jessica Wessels, field marketing coordinator for Fazoli’s at the corporate office, said bringing a store back to Morristown is a proud moment for the company and the area.

“I think it’s awesome. The community wants (a Fazoli’s), and (Morristown) misses it,” she said. “It’s a very good way to start back up again.”

Wessels also said the company expects nothing but success for K&J Italian and the city of Morristown, and that it won’t be hard for the location to succeed.

“There’s already brand awareness, and we have a relationship with the people in the community,” she said. “(The Mundys) also know what they’re doing because they already own Fazoli’s restaurants in Tennessee.”

K&R Italian also presented a check for $500 to the Lakeway Area Habitat For Humanity. Andrews said the donation proves the ownership group is committed to the area long-term.

“It’s great the first thing (K&R Italian) did was make a community investment (to the Lakeway Area),” he said.

Founded in 1988 in Lexington, Kentucky, Fazoli’s original Italian fast food concept was sold to Seed Restaurant Group, Inc. In July 2015, Sun Capital Partners sold the chain to Sentinel Capital Partners. Currently, the franchise operates 217 stores in 26 states.

In 2017, Fazoli’s announced the launch of its first app-based loyalty program with mobile ordering capabilities. Carl Howard, president and chief executive officer of Fazoli’s, said earlier this year the franchise has experienced explosive growth in its three decades of existence.

“As we celebrate our 30th anniversary, Fazoli’s continues to resonate with consumers,” Howard says. “I’m thrilled with the impressive progress of our brand and look forward to the coming quarters. We already have a strong pipeline of development and look to off-premise programs to add to the sales momentum. We are also very excited about the tremendous success of our recent limited time offers, validating our decision to place a heavy focus on refreshing our core menu, so our guests stay engaged and keep coming back to see what’s new at Fazoli’s.”