FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The community came out in full force to support a new pizzeria in Fruitport.
Cadena Brothers Pizzeria opened July 26 on Heights Ravenna Road near Dangl Road. The menu includes specialty thin-crust pizzas, grinders and spaghetti. Twins David and Nick Cadena started working to open the pizza shop about a year and a half ago.
“It’s always been (Nick’s) dream to open his own place,” David Cadena said. “He came to me and said, ‘Hey, would you be interested in helping me get going and getting started?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely.’ I’ve had the opportunity to help my brother reach his dream. … I just couldn’t pass up.”
Nick Cadena has loved cooking since he was 8 years old, when he starting helping cook dinner for his family. His first job was working at Papa Murphy’s and he later worked at Fricano’s.
“I’ve always had a passion for pizza,” he said.
He went to culinary school after high school, then went on to work for one of his instructors, Chef Mickey Johnson at Salt & Pepper in Holland, before venturing to open the pizzeria.
Nick Cadena said his mom, who died about six years ago, always wanted him to open a restaurant.
“It was always her dream for me to do this,” he said.
The pizzeria’s grand opening was David Cadena’s first day in the food industry.
“We thought we were going to be pretty busy,” he said. “The grand opening was about tenfold of what I thought it was going to be. I tell everybody Fruitport is a special place. … They support their own.”
Wait times were reaching up to two and a half hours and they sold out every night for the first week and a half.
“One person would call and there’d be about another four or five people calling all at the same time,” David Cadena said. “It was honestly … a great problem to have. I would much rather have that phone ring off the hook than be in a situation where I’m asking myself, ‘Where are the people; is there something wrong with our product or marketing?’ That has not been the case at all. It’s honestly — it’s been a blessing.”
He said he had former educators, teachers, friends, family and neighbors stop in to support them, along with many Fruitport alumni.
Mario Flores, who used to be David Cadena’s football coach and is now working as the brothers’ business partner, said things are now under control. He said the reviews have been great and people have been understanding.
“We’re serving the community,” he said. “We’re community first and profit second.”
The new pizzeria is a return to Flores’ roots. He used to own Antonio’s Pizzeria in the same building. It’s where he met his wife in 1999.
“When I first got here I had to go outside and emotions took over,” he said. “…I met my wife Stacy here. We went through some good times and some bad times.”
Flores said he’s learned a lot since his first time around and said he’s mentoring the brothers to keep them from making the same “dumb mistakes” he did when we was younger.
Antonio’s Pizzeria won best pizza in the area two years in a row. Flores eventually got into the mortgage business — he now works at VanDyk Mortgage and owns West Michigan Ironmen — and decided to close the pizzeria. He sold the building to his brother-in-law, who opened up another pizzeria.
Eventually, Teddy Spaghettis went into the space.
“This building has had a ton of success,” David Cadena said. “I consider Teddy a mentor and a friend. This building did very well when he was there. A lot of history, a lot of people love Teddy’s. We get people come in that (say), ‘Oh, I miss Teddy’s.’ And part of me is conflicted … because I miss Teddy’s Spaghettis, too.”
Both brothers having been working long hours, with Nick Cadena at the pizzeria full-time and David Cadena splitting his time between the pizzeria and his other job.
“I’m working about 90 hour weeks, but it doesn’t feel like 90 hours,” Nick Cadena said. “It feels like I may be working 40. It’s honestly amazing.”
They’re working on getting a liquor license and will be adding more pastas to the menu.
Both said they want to make their mom proud.
“Every day I go and I do the things that I do to make sure that she’s looking down and she’s proud,” David Cadena said.