GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A co-owner of the Flo’s Pizzeria, also a member of the Uccello’s family, is now running his own recreational and medical marijuana shop.

“Pizza to pot. It’s a nice combination, right?” Davide Uccello, co-owner and partner of Exclusive, said. “A lot of people say: ‘Why the switch?’ It comes down to what’s been happening with COVID. The restaurants are no longer profitable and we really needed to expand our portfolio and that’s what brought us into this partnership.”

His family has been running restaurants in metro Grand Rapids for about 20 years, while he and brother have been running Flo’s Pizzeria just north of the city for the past 10.

“It’s really taught me how to have an experience from the time they walk into that door, from when they meet one of the budtenders or, in a restaurant setting, a server,” he said. “And giving them the full experience.”

Uccello said that he can now give back in a way that just was not possible before, participating in a new equity program to help members of Black and brown communities run their own cannabis businesses.

“I think for a long time, so many people were left out of the cannabis industry, and I think it’s on the current cannabis operators to do their part to contribute to the communities who have really propped them up and made them successful,” Narmin Jarrous, the chief development officer at Exclusive, said.

The new shop in the area of 29th Street and Breton Road has 40 employees. To Uccello, that is the most satisfying part.

“Giving jobs in a time where we have 18, 20 percent unemployment, it’s a very good feeling to be able to do that; not many industries right now can say that,” Uccello said.

Once his grow facility next door opens in the fall, he is looking to hire at least another 25 people.

Exclusive, located at 2350 29th St. SE, will have a ribbon-cutting event at 4:20 p.m. Saturday.