By: Sherry Williams Kidd | Twitter: @PGJournal
Posted: January 23, 2019 | 12:30 p.m.
As Luca’s new location turns one, owner reflects on past, future of business
VIRGINIA – Jose Luis Pedraza, known as Luis to family and friends, has fulfilled his life’s goals and dreams in so many ways, with Luca’s Italian Restaurant in Prince George County standing as an example of what hard work can garner if one is dedicated to achieving their goals.
The Prince George resident, formerly of Dinwiddie, immigrated to the United States with his family in 1995, when he was a 13-year-old boy. Since that time, Pedraza has surmounted and overcome many obstacles and challenges and has accomplished much.
“When my Dad brought our family to America, he told us to behave ourselves, to work hard, and to do well,” Pedraza said. “Because of this I am a hard worker, and I love that I am blessed and am able to work. At first, my mom was washing dishes at Giuseppe’s in Dinwiddie, when we came to this country, and I would walk with her to and from work from Harrison’s Trailer Park where we lived every day. Soon, my father said that my mother should not have to walk all that way or work, but that she should stay home and that my father and I would support the family. So, that is when I started my restaurant career, and I became a dishwasher at Giuseppe’s in Dinwiddie. I went to Dinwiddie High School and graduated.”
During that time, it was always Pedraza’s dream to open his own restaurant one day. Pedraza assumed that when he finally got to open his own restaurant, that it would be Mexican. After all, he was from Morelia, Mexico, and he knew and loved Mexican food. He worked hard as a dishwasher at Giuseppe’s and the owner, Joe Buffa, taught Pedraza everything there is to know about Italian cuisine and cooking.
Pedraza worked very hard as a dishwasher, but he didn’t stay in that position for long. He kept learning, continued to work hard, and going up the ladder learning every aspect of the restaurant business.
Eventually, Pedraza had filled the position of the head cook, preparing delicious Italian cuisine. The original Luca’s Restaurant came up for sale in Prince George County.
At that time, Pedraza admitted he had mixed feelings. By then, he had a young family of his own to think of and support. Could he actually make a go of it? Would it be successful? Could he pay the bills and support his young family? It was Pedraza’s dream to open a Mexican restaurant, but he had learned so much about Italian cuisine, that he thought Luca’s might just be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“When Luca Italian Restaurant came up for sale, it just seemed like it was meant to be,” Pedraza shared. “So, even though it seemed like a tremendous amount of money for Luca’s, I wanted this for myself and my family. I worked so hard those first few years, and we just barely turned any profit at all. We continued to work really hard, and it finally paid off—so much so that my family and I were able to enlarge Luca’s last Spring, and move into our new and improved, larger location.”
The new Luca Italian Restaurant, located at 6411 Courthouse Road in Prince George, right near the bend in the road and across from the Prince George Regional Heritage Center, is much larger than their previous location. There is a bar area, conference and party rooms, daily lunch and dinner specials, and pizza specials on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. Call-ahead reservations and takeout orders can be made by telephoning (804) 861-4887. They cater and have separate serving areas for banquets, parties, and meetings. There is also El Frisco, or outdoor dining, weather permitting.
What about the old Luca location, and Pedraza’s dream of a restaurant with Mexican cuisine? Luca’s old location has been undergoing major renovations this past year.
“We started the renovations on the old restaurant last year, and they became quite extensive. We are hoping the renovations will be completed by March,” he said. “When the renovations are completed, we will finally be able to open up that Mexican restaurant that I have always wanted.
Pedraza also revealed what the name of the restaurant will be – Morelia’s, named for the state Pedraza is from in Mexico.
“At the old Luca’s, I was always getting requests for Mexican food from patrons, both at the restaurant and for catering,” he shared. “Everyone loved the Mexican cuisine, so it will be good to get back to this cuisine at our second restaurant.”
Pedraza’s immediate family consists of his wife, Carmela; a 15-year-old son, Luis; a 10-year-old daughter, Samantha; and a 2-1/2-year-old daughter, Mia. Pedraza said that central Virginia, Dinwiddie, and Prince George have been so good to him and his family.
Pedraza feels blessed, humbled, and grateful for the success of the new Luca’s in Prince George, and he and his family are very excited and happy about the opening of Morelia’s Mexican Restaurant this Spring.