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Expanded restaurant stresses family, local ties
Times photo: Tere Dunlap Fabio and Maria Grado, center, owners of Vinces Restaurant and Pizzeria, their daughters Marilena, Arianna, and Rosangela, and Jane Monaghan, board president of Monroe Chamber of Commerce and Industry cut the ceremonial ribbon Wednesday at the restaurants grand opening. Vinces Restaurant and Pizzeria opened Feb. 5.
MONROE - Fabio and Maria Grado, owners of Vince's Ristorante and Pizzeria, have accomplished their version of a tradition that has been in their families for three generations - to combine their family and work.

Fabio, Maria and their three daughters, Rosangela, Marilena and Arianna, ages 3 to 7, opened the doors at their new location at 619 Fourth Ave. on Feb. 5, serving pizza, pastas, Italian and American dinners, sandwiches, appetizers and desserts, as well as beers and wines.

Fabio and Maria both grew up in the restaurant business, and are excited about having their kids part of their business, the way it was with their parents.

"It has been an amazing, amazing, amazing nine years," Grado said about the business' growth. "I chose Monroe, because I knew this is what Monroe is about. Everything was for a good purpose, a good reason."

Grado said he needed to expand based on his customer numbers. Previously employing 18 people, up from 13 in 2002, the new restaurant employs about 30 people.

Members of the Green County Board, Monroe City Council and Monroe Chamber of Commerce and Industry joined the Grados and their three daughters in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.

Alderman Thurston Hanson said the business expansion was partly a result of the city's proactive approach to getting a beer-only and wine-only licenses ordinance passed in 2007.

"That's what we need - more city and businesses working together," Hanson said.

Because of the new ordinance, the Grados are serving locally-made beers.

"I want to push more to the local area. We buy everything from Monroe," Grado said.

"It's foolish for me, for all of us, not to (buy locally)," he added.

Grado said his restaurant goes through 700 pounds of cheese a week, and buys it from a company that gets its from local cheesemakers.

Fabio designed the basic layout of the new restaurant, with arched doorways and a separate room for groups. The Grados chose Home Craft Construction, Monroe, as their general contractor, who took the development from first spade of dirt to finishing touches in six months.

Maria accented the decor with framed scenes of Italy.

She also chose the subtle yellow color for the walls, because Fabio is color-blind.

"Have you ever seen a carnival in Italy?" Fabio joked about his color combinations.

His color blindness is no hindrance to his cooking ability, though.

"They ask me, 'how does this look?' and I say, 'I don't know, taste it,'" he laughed.

Fabio worked in his family's business in Italy from age 6, and began his career as a baker in 1985 with a dream of coming to America. Within a year that dream came true when he toured this country with his then bride-to-be, Maria, and met his future father-in-law, Vince.

Vince's Pizza benefited from Fabio's baking skill. He ran the Beloit restaurant for 10 years and in 1998 began looking for the right community for a second location. He chose Monroe, because the hard-working people he met reminded him of home.

The new 4,000-square-foot building seats 90, with outside patio seating for 20 more. Catering for any size party is available. Business hours are 10 a.m. to 10:45 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; and 10 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday.