Pizza Villa named District 21 Small Business of the Year – Merced County Times

Seth and Alma Fisher of Pizza Villa in Merced.

Anyone who eats at Merced’s Pizza Villa can tell you what makes the pies special. For some, it’s the freshly made sauce; for others, the dough which swells nicely golden. Many rave about the incredible range of toppings.

But the truly special ingredient in every Pizza Villa pie comes down to one word: Tradition.

Owners Seth and Alma Fisher have carried on Merced’s oldest pizza tradition. Their dedication to creating something that is both great and unique has led Assembly Member Adam Gray to name Pizza Villa Assembly District 21’s Small Business of the Year in California for 2021. Pizza Villa and other small businesses from each assembly district will be honored at a reception in Sacramento on August 18.

The Pizza Villa tradition nearly died out in 2018 when Andy Cuttone put a sign on his front door offering to sell the ovens, equipment and accessories to anyone interested.

Seth Fisher, who started his career cleaning the floors at Pizza Villa, was not interested in just buying the ovens. He wanted to save the business.

After taking a few months to transition from employee to owner, Fisher continued to make Pizza Villa-style pizzas – creating “a slice of happiness” for lunch and dinner patrons.

“It’s an institution,” said Gray, who has eaten Pizza Villa pies (Canadian pepperoni and bacon) his entire life. “The place is one of a kind; it’s part of what makes Merced Merced.

At 17, Fisher attended Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in San Francisco. It didn’t last long. After a year, he joined the army. When his team ended, he returned to Merced and

started cleaning these floors. Soon he was making pizza, then he was assistant manager and now owner.

“I don’t see myself as a chef, but a very high-end cook,” Fisher said. “I realized that this was not just an ordinary pizzeria, but an upscale and very classy restaurant. Perfection in pizza. That’s what I was taught. … And that’s what gave me back my passion for cooking.

But it is a lot of work to be a homeowner. His 80-hour weeks include two days – Mondays and Tuesdays – just to catch up. That’s when he does the deep cleaning and maintenance the restaurant needs at his Loughborough Drive location.

Because business is going well – Fisher plans to sell 30,000 pies this year – he would like to add 10 more employees to his staff of 12, but he’s struggling to find them. He needs dishwashers, waiters, cashiers and delivery drivers. He believes that two-thirds of his employees will learn to make pizza.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. Putting aside the prep hours to make the sauce and toppings each day, Fisher said controlling the cooking variables was key. You need to adjust the oven temperature to the heat and humidity outside – too much heat dries the dough, too cold on the outside and you lose the crispy crust. Even the thickness of the sauce affects the cooking time.

Such attention to detail keeps people coming back and creates new UC Merced customers.

If you had visited Pizza Villa in 1962, roughly 27 years before Seth was born, you might have met his grandfather at a table eating a pie. If you had come in the 1970s, Fisher’s dad could have been sitting there.

“It is an honor and a privilege to serve the customers who have come here for so long,” said Fisher. “I get so many people who will come and say they remember coming in 1960 when Andy was on J Street. Some people even got married there.

That’s why Fisher is thrilled to be named Small Business of the Year.

” It’s awesome. For me that’s all. It means that I do it well, that I do not go astray. I run the place as it should, that is, it makes the best pizzas. “

Source link