Fricano’s Pizza Tavern has been a part of Grand Haven’s landscape for the past 70 years.
Started by the late Cosimo “Gus” Fricano, who partnered with his brother Tom, the pizzeria has put smiles on customer’s faces since its opening in 1949. Fricano’s is believed to be the first pizzeria in Michigan.
“Generations of people that come in have celebrated marriages, birthdays, first dates. It’s all a celebration,” said Jeanne Meyer, daughter of Gus and Alexandria Fricano, and current manager of the restaurant. “It’s a place where people feel at home and we’ve enjoyed celebrating our anniversaries with them.”
In September, Fricano’s celebrated its 70th anniversary, inviting customers and family to a street party in front of the restaurant on 1400 Fulton St.
The building that houses Fricano’s was originally a boarding house in the late 1800s.
Things have remained much the same since Gus Fricano began selling pizzas 70 years ago. The recipe has remained unchanged since Day 1, Meyer said. The pizza parlor doesn’t feature a menu – there’s the one-size pizza, and the handful of available toppings are listed on the placemat.
Not in the mood for pizza? Then you’re out of luck – that’s the only thing that comes out of the 50-year-old ovens.
Hoping to pay with a credit card? Think again: Fricano’s does business the old-fashioned way, accepting cash or check only. That may change in the future, Meyer said, but that’s one of the only things about the iconic pizza parlor that will change.
“With it being around 70 years, hundreds and hundreds of people who’ve had their first dates at Fricano’s keep coming back,” Meyer said with a smile. “I hear it all the time, ‘My grandparents brought me here, my parents brought me here, now I’m bringing my kids here.’”
Meyer said though Gus passed away 35 years ago, his legacy has been carried on by his children and wife, Alexandria, who continue to work in the restaurant.
“The business is all I know, it’s been ingrained in me, in all of the family,” Meyer said. “I had a job in health care, while I thought that was my passion, this is – I’m meeting old friends and making new friends – what great memories the customers have of Tom and Gus being shared.”