FORT MYERS, Fla. — Continue to support mom-and-pop shops.
That's the message from Uncle Rico's Pizza co-owner, Enrico Aguila - also known as "Uncle Rico".
“Without the community, there is no Uncle Rico’s,” he says.
Cira Aguila, co-owner of Uncle Rico's and Aguila's wife, says the family-owned business that opened in 2022 generates about 150 to 200 pizzas per day.
Together, they credit Southwest Florida's support for helping his restaurant to gain national attention - a reality that he didn't see coming.
“The vision when my wife and I opened this place was just a little mom and pop neighborhood pizzeria. That was the vision.”
But this past September, the 90s/old-school-themed pizza place was ranked #3 by the Washington Post for best "New York Style Pizza" in the entire Sunshine State.
A couple months later, Aguila says that recognition's turned Uncle Rico's pizza into a destination - with people traveling for hours to try out his team's food.
One customer recalls the high demand.
"The line was out the door!"
That visual was a welcomed site for the family after they suddenly had to close their shop in January 2023, following a car accident that left them both injured and forced to spend time recovering.
They reopened again in March 2023 - and received national recognition months later.
Aguila says their success only reinforces the importance of supporting small businesses in Southwest Florida.
“It’s not only Uncle Rico’s. There’s great pizzerias…great eateries out there.
We work hard to save up the money to open these places up, and other people deserve to get a piece of the action - a piece of the pie. I want Southwest Florida to become a foodie destination," Aguila says.
But, we know you might be wondering what Uncle Rico's secret is.
He says it's "time and patience" when it comes to the dought.
"It’s not like make it today, and serve it tomorrow. Nah nah. It’s like fine wine. You need to let it mature."