For Tony Iannice, his new Murrells Inlet restaurant is more than just another pizza shop.
It’s a place that resembles his heritage, family and years of training in cooking Italian foods.
Fat Tony’s New York Pizza & East Coast Eatery, located at 3120 U.S. 17 Business South, is a lifelong dream of Iannice and his grandfather, Frank Yannich.
The dream will soon come to fruition, possibly as early as July.
“I’ve spent the last year or more with this idea in my head,” Iannice said in an email. “It has my name, my grandfather’s face and the unique East Coast eatery I came up with since I didn’t want to be known as just a typical pizzeria and restaurant.”
Setting out with that idea in mind, Iannice created a restaurant that will feature everything from New York style pizza, sandwiches, soups and salads, stromboli, calzones and more.
“Instead of the traditional Italian menu, I opted for a ravioli menu with diverse and unique fillings and flavors,” Iannice said. “My goal is to have a fast casual and from-scratch concept serving real New York pizza, family recipes and re-imagined food from the East Coast and across the country.”
Iannice also managed to incorporate his grandfather by making him the face of the restaurant.
“It means everything to me to see my grandfather’s face on the restaurant looking down at me and having the opportunity to share his amazing story and food with people from all walks of life,” he said.
His grandfather did more than just help him dream up the idea for the restaurant, however. With the help of his wife Barbara Yannich, Frank Yannich introduced Iannice to classic Italian cooking.
“Growing up, I remember the smell of the oil and vinegar being tossed in a salad by my grandmother, or a fresh cheesecake being pulled out of the oven she just baked,” Iannice wrote in a family biography. “I remember a pot of gravy on every Saturday overnight with the meatballs, sausage and neck bones cooking and marinating in it for the family’s Sunday dinner.”
Through his grandparents, he learned that cooking can bring people together. By traveling the world, he learned new ideas and recipes that would one day help him to realize his dream.
“I think my culinary life changed forever when I took my first trip out of the country when I was 12,” he wrote in the biography. “I was now intrigued, curious and bewildered by all the food, flavors and seasonings I saw.”
Styled after a classic New York feel, Fat Tony’s gives Iannice “the creative freedom to explore food from all over the East Coast and beyond.
“It seems kind of cheesy, but I always refer to the TV show ‘Cheers’ – the place where everyone knows your name,” Iannice said. “I think the fact that there’s a real family, a real local owner and story behind this restaurant and that I’m there everyday to greet and cook for my customers. I love meeting my customers, their children and friends and family.”
While an opening date has not yet been set, Iannice is hoping to open sometime in July.
Iannice is hiring pizza chefs, lunch, dinner and prep cooks, delivery drivers, cashiers and dishwashers. Those interested can email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call 843-212-9211.
“With each day we learn a little more, accomplish a little more and take one step closer to opening. But it is a passion project, and I will see it through to the end until the day we open, and we cook the first pie and serve the first slice,” Iannice said.