December 26th, 2018
Welcome to the family
Fresco Italian Kitchen had its origins in 2007, where it was just a concept in a classroom at Monroe Community College. A project in Entrepreneurial Studies had me thinking hard on what the Rochester area was missing. With a plethora of Italian-esque restaurants, no one would ever assume the Rochester Metro Region was lacking in options for Chicken Parmesan. I entered school with the thought of being a Chef, my first year laden with culinary classes, in a program that is actually well established and knowledge laden. But after realizing the day-to-day Chef life was only for a certain breed of super-humans, who run off of Coffee, Cocaine, and Confit, my mind and thoughts traveled away from that goal.
Real Estate was always my passion. I grew up in a family of builders, and loved the construction business, but more, I loved Real Estate. Whether it was countless games of Monopoly as a child, or spending summer vacations on construction sites, I always wanted to build and develop. My family had strong ties to the Stone-Dewey area, mostly in the form of Front Row Video, a video rental shop my maternal Grandfather and Uncle owned on Stone Road. My Grandfather also owned a gasoline station on Dewey Avenue, and an Auto-Repair Shop on Bennington Drive. My paternal Grandmother lived on Stonewood Avenue for over 50 years and my father built the former Peck's Liquor store on Dewey Avenue.
As I hunted to get my chops wet in flipping houses, a nagging sense of lacking constantly prodded my brain, as busy nights left me hungry for my childhood favorites to fill my empty stomach. Without time to stop at my local favorites, like Rocky's on Jay Street for lunch, I was forced to order take-out food from other "Italian" restaurants. Places that I used to enjoy as a child, like Cavacori's on Lake Avenue, had either been sold or closed, and trips to Guido's Pasta Villa meant a long wait and hefty bill at the end. I don't name these places to throw negative views on what may be perceived as the competition, as I regularly enjoy these restaurants, and believe these are the foundations of Rochester's regional cuisine. I only illustrate the lack of an option for this style of food for the working professional: hence, the light-bulb moment.
As I hunted for houses to buy and resell, I would harken back to that 2007 project, Fresco Industries, and the thoughts of bringing fresh sauce to the market for people on the go. I had zero manufacturing or food production experience in my life, and still do not, but I had years of service in the restaurant business under my belt. What's the difference, right? The opportunity came to purchase a house in a unique zoning designation on Stone Road. So I do not bore with details of Zoning and Building Code laws, something that is as exciting as watching water boil, I'll make a long story short: I thought I had an opportunity to get the best of both worlds; renting apartments and owning a restaurant. That thought was quickly diminished as reality set in. The kind of reality where ideas are easily manhandled by bureaucracy. Back to square one.
Fast forward to 2016. I found another property not more than four doors away from my first endeavor on Stone Road. While most avid Real Estate professionals were buying properties in the South Wedge, or Monroe Avenue areas, taking advantage of the huge demand in those neighborhoods, I was focused on a place for no other reason than deep family roots. Market research for the area did not offer promising returns for Real Estate investors, but I had other ideas and I was different (enter sarcasm). While I worked managing the construction of a restaurant in Brockport, I focused on Fresco again. My family and I jumped in. With the help of two indispensable family members/friends, we began slowly converting this old construction office into what would become Fresco Italian Kitchen. That is the simplified version to save valuable space, as many of you probably stopped reading after the second paragraph. We hit more snags and road blocks than I ever experienced in my professional life. But in the end we opened. We did it. We built a restaurant. Then the hard part started.
I will end our origin story there. I need to save some material for future posts. If you're asking yourself why the hell you wasted so much time reading the thoughts of a mad man who is describing the thrilling details of opening a restaurant on Stone Road in Greece, NY, I understand your sentiment. But I promise you this, the story will continue to get better and you will benefit from taking 10 minutes of your life to read this blog. I never thought I'd write a blog in my life. I made fun of blogs for years. But I also never thought I'd sink my life savings, and the investments from friends and family, into a restaurant directly across the street from my Uncle's former video store.
Over time this website will grow. We will feature blog posts and articles about Sicilian, Italian, and Italian-American cuisine, all three being distinct cuisine. There will be articles about Italian immigrants, Italian language and culture, as well as family recipes. Take a minute to explore our website, which has been almost a year in the making, and stop by the loyalty page and Join the Family, where you'll get exclusive savings, gift certificates, and updates. We also have a link to our YouTube Channel, which is where we will produce instructional cooking videos on not only your favorite Fresco dishes, but all types of cuisine. We hope to feature guests who will come to our kitchen and produce some of their favorite foods with us.
Thank you for stopping by and I hope to see you all very soon! Cento Anni!
Welcome to our website
Welcome to Fresco Italian Kitchen. Stay turned for updates!
Al Giardino is Executive Chef/General Manager of Fresco Italian Kitchen. With a Culinary and Real Estate background, He intends to bring his family traditions of Italian-American cuisine to families on-the-go.