Tony Sacco's at Cranbrook
Pizza place targets Whole Foods shoppers
by Shelley Daily
The former Pier 1 building is now divided between a Potbelly's sub shop and the new Tony Sacco's Coal Oven Pizza. "We're going for the Whole Foods demographic," explains Tony Sacco's general manager Chelsea Lang on opening day in early May, as more than a dozen smiling, eager servers awaited a dinner crowd. "We have all fresh ingredients, no fryers, grills, heat lamps, microwaves--we have top meats and cheeses," she says. Pizzas run $10 to $19 and take about five to six minutes to cook in the 1,000-degree oven.
Lang and her significant other, franchise owner Keith Gulian, visited the Tony Sacco's in Novi--one of six in Michigan--and decided to make the move to Ann Arbor from Lapeer a year ago to start their own place. The company is based in Florida, and also has restaurants in North Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.
"It was dirt floors and cement cinder block walls," she says of the space they started with. The transformation, including installing the coal oven and hood, took more time than expected (she emphasizes "we use a cleaner-burning anthracite coal").
The finished space offers a full bar with "seven out of the eight beer taps reserved for Michigan craft beer," seating for about 100 plus an outside patio, and six flat-screen TVs. "We hope this will be a stop on game days," she says, pointing to autographed Michigan football jerseys on the walls and describing Gulian as a "sports fanatic." Lang says she and Gulian hope to open a second location in southeastern Michigan in a year.
Tony Sacco's Coal Oven Pizza, 980A W. Eisenhower (Cranbrook Village), 995-2625. Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. tonysaccos.com
[Originally published in June, 2013.]