By: Sherry Williams Kidd | Email: Click Here
Posted: June 29, 2018 | 12:40 p.m.
PRINCE GEORGE – One of the most anticipated grand openings and ribbon cuttings in Prince George County finally took place last week as local favorite Luca Italian Restaurant opened the doors to its new home along Courthouse Road last Monday morning.
Owners, Jose Luis Pedraza and his wife Carmen were surrounded by family, 14-year-old son, Luis; 9-year-old daughter, Samantha; 1-1/2-year-old daughter, Mia; Luis’ mother and father, Evelia and Jose Luis Pedraza; friends; staff, patrons; and well-wishers from all over Central and Southside Virginia, the Tri-Cities, and beyond as they cut the ribbon at their new location across the street from the county government complex and historic courthouse building.
“This has been a really long time coming, with a lot of hard work. I first thought we would be able to open our new place in February, but then that turned into March, April, and then May; and now here we are in June,” said Pedraza. “Every time five more things were completed, there were 100 more things that needed to be done,” Pedraza said.
Monday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony represents an incredible amount of hard work, constant trial and error, and meticulous attention to detail. This new Luca’s is more spacious, with rooms for parties, banquets, and special events; a 100-person capacity banquet room; a bar with two large screen televisions and USB chargers for patrons; and seasonal outdoor dining.
Surrounded by family, friends, staff, patrons, and well-wishers, Samantha Pedraza, 9-year-old daughter of Luis and Carmen Pedraza, prepares to cut ribbon of the new Luca Italian Restaurant (Rodger Allen Kidd)
“Many have expressed concerns about menu changes because they already love the traditional dishes that we have always prepared. They do not have to worry. We will still have all of Luca’s customer favorites, but we will also be introducing more delicious seafood items and a wonderful rib-eye steak to the menu,” said Pedraza.
Pedraza plans on converting the former location of Luca’s, 6619 Courthouse Road, Prince George, into a Mexican restaurant, with its name still to be determined.
“It will take at least two or three months after this new grand opening of Luca’s today, to get our new Mexican restaurant up-and-running, but this is only natural,” said Pedraza. “I immigrated to this country from Mexico in 1995, when I was a 13-year-old boy. I am always asked to do Mexican food for special events, and we even added several Mexican items to the menu at our previous Luca’s, so expanding Luca Italian Restaurant to this newer larger location and finally opening my own Mexican Restaurant is humbling and a blessing to me and my family.”
Pedraza began his restaurant career as a dishwasher at Giuseppe’s in Dinwiddie. “When my dad brought our family to America, he told us to behave ourselves, to work hard, and to do well. Because of this, I am a hard worker, and I love that I can work. At first, my mom was washing dishes at Giuseppe’s when we came here, and I would walk with her to-and-from work from Harrison’s Trailer Park where we lived. Soon, my father said that my mother should not have to walk all that way or work, but that she should stay home and we would support the family. So, I became a dishwasher. I went to Dinwiddie High School and graduated,” Pedraza shared.
It was always Pedraza’s dream to open his own restaurant. “I learned everything about Italian cooking from Joe Buffa, who was like a father to me, and I had progressed to become their head cook. 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. Now, I stand here today with my family and friends at the grand opening of my new restaurant, and I am already planning on opening my new Mexican restaurant. I am truly a blessed man, and I thank everyone that has helped us every step of the way,” said Pedraza.
The new Luca Italian Restaurant is located at 6411 Courthouse Road in Prince George.