Flo’s Wood Fired Pizza enters joint venture with St. Julian Winery

Now hiring cooks and pizza chefs

By Beth Altena  and Zoë Newmann

Brothers Dan and David Uccello are opening their fourth restaurant venture in eight years and look forward to offering more jobs, a unique Sicilian menu and newly remodeled space. The new business will likely open in August at the location on 14 Mile Road, taking half of the building that was previously Seekers Roadhouse and before that The Crazy Horse Saloon at 4425 14 Mile Road.

Dan said the other half of the building will be occupied by St. Julian Winery. They are also a distillery, so will offer spirits and ciders as well as wine tasting, glasses, bottles and cases. Each are taking 4,000 square feet of the building with a shared banquet or group meeting room in the center of the structure.

The Uccello brothers first entered the restaurant business with Flo’s in Belmont on April 29, 2011. Their restaurant highlights the authentic flavors and ingredients truly from Sicily where their families came from. Dan and David followed with their Plainfield Avenue Flo’s location in 2014, Catering Concepts of Holland in the same year, the Greenville Flo’s restaurant in 2016 and this newest, Flo’s Woodfired Pizza in Cedar Rock next month.

Dan said this location will differ from others in several ways. In addition to sharing a joined front door under the auspice of a giant wine barrel, the new restaurant will be an open kitchen concept and feature a wood fired pizza oven.  He also is excited about an all manual hand-cranked meat slicer ordered from Italy. All meats are sliced in the kitchen, all dough made in house where people can see from the dining area.

The new menu will include piadine, a traditional Italian flatbread, also made in house. The symbol for the restaurant will be a mystery to some, and make perfect sense to others, the Trinacria, a three legged symbol of Sicily. It has ancient symbolism and was referenced in Homer’s Odyssey. There will be bench seating and butcher block design as well as community bench seating for groups.

Dan said he and his brother began eight years ago with an ambitious timeline to add a new restaurant every year, and they have not kept up that pace, but are growing their brand impressively nonetheless. They currently employ over 200 people between their different enterprises, and will add significantly to that amount with this new, Cedar Rock location. Dan said they are especially looking to hire chefs and pizza cooks.

In addition to the indoor seating options, both the winery and the restaurant will offer outdoor seating for 60. He said he likes this new location, in part because the road is highly trafficked and it is convenient to Rockford and other nearby communities.

Although the facility had been remodeled under the ownership of the Seekers Roadhouse, the configuration was not what the Uccello brothers envisioned. The kitchen was located in the back and the space was unuseful. “You couldn’t put lipstick on that pig. We literally had to rip everything out. There was not one thing we kept.” Rockford Construction is doing the work on the building for both companies and Dan said they have been working fast to reach the close deadline for a soft grand opening in August. He said he and the folks at the winery plan a huge wine festival to celebrate the event. It will be both inside and outside the newly remodeled building, with bands, tents and be “a huge weekend deal.”

Dan said he doesn’t sleep much with all the work of multiple restaurants, and also is the proud father of a two-year-old and a  four-year-old at home. “I drink a lot of coffee.”

Currently hiring for all positions, but most especially chefs and cooks, Dan said people can apply at floswoodfired.com and fill out an application or apply through the business facebook page at floswoodfiredpizzeria. “We have a strong philosophy of being family oriented and family friendly, we have high expectations but are very flexible.” A year ago Dan and David were proud to win the nationwide competition for Best Pizza in America, and that pie will certainly be on the menu at Flo’s Woodfired Pizzeria.

Dan said he and David still have plenty of ambition to continue this growth trend with future restaurants with Old World recipes and fresh enthusiasm. They began their joint ventures in offering fantastic foods eight years ago when Dan was only 24 and David just 19.

“This isn’t all about making money. It’s about providing people with jobs and offering the best recipes to our customers. We really go down to our roots with true Sicilian foods.”