Between the hours of 11:30am and 2:30am, an overwhelmingly tempting aroma of garlic floods the intersection of 22nd Ave. and Franklin Ave. The smell, unmistakable by neighborhood residents, serves to invite all who pass by a to stop in. Since 2003, Pizza Lucé has stood as a landmark of delicious taste on Franklin Ave.; General Manager Jennifer Linnett credits the restaurant’s success to continued community engagement and a dedication to quality food and ingredients.
According to Linnett, a 2002 email from the building’s owner, Seward resident Carol Carrier, expressed that she and her husband, Greg Sales, recently purchased a building on Franklin Avenue and that the two intended to redevelop the space for more tenants. After a strong response from neighbors who begged for a Pizza Lucé in Seward, CEO J.J. Haywood, former resident of South East Minneapolis and the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, decided to bring the distinct flavors of Pizza Lucé to Franklin Avenue.
At the time of the Seward location’s development, Linnett had been an employee of the Pizza Lucé in Uptown for about three years. Previously, Linnett worked her way up to a management position at a pizza place in Washington State; her decision to move north was encouraged by her best friend and her eventual employment at the Uptown location near Linnett’s first apartment. When the Seward location opened, Linnett transferred to a management position and fell in love with the neighborhood. In fact, Linnett specifically bought a home near Seward due to her attachment to the area.
“I ended up buying a home in Longfellow, just a few blocks away from the Riverview Theater. So, I’m not quite a Seward resident, but with as much time as I spend in Seward, I think I’ve earned an honorary residency,” Linnett joked.
As Seward is host to a broad spectrum of individuals and families from many different cultures, Linnett said that it has always been important for the restaurant to be reflective of the neighborhood’s range of people. “At one table you could have a vegan, a meat eater and a person with gluten intolerance and everyone eats together. I think that concept is exactly what Seward is about: a place where people can come together,” she said.
Linnett said that her role as a manager ensures that each day is unique with “challenges and new experiences.” Regardless of how different each day can turn out to be, Linnett reported that the central goals for those who work at the Lucé in Seward are a constant dedication to customer satisfaction and the effort to maintain an environment of fun in the restaurant. “I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to be part of Pizza Lucé and get to work with so many great people,” she said.
For those who haven’t dined at Pizza Lucé on Franklin Avenue, the restaurant stands apart from other pizza restaurant in the area for its unique ingredient combinations, an intimate seating arrangement, a rotating art gallery, and its offerings from the restaurant’s full bar. Each day, the staff of Lucé picks a new blend of ingredients and assembles two slices of the day, one with meat and one vegetarian option.
The regular menu staples of Pizza Lucé include the Classic (an Italian sausage, pepperoni pizza complete with mushrooms, green peppers, onions, black olives and mozzarella cheese on red sauce), the Baked Potato (a pizza with a crust covered in mashed baby red potatoes and topped with broccoli, fresh diced tomatoes, cheddar cheese and a sprinkling of smoked apple hickory bacon), the Athena (a pie assembled with spinach, tomatoes, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, red onions, Greek oregano and toasted garlic with mozzarella cheese on a delicious Bianca sauce), and one of Linnett’s all-time personal favorites: the Rustler (an assembly of marinated mock duck, pineapple, banana peppers, red onions, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses on their signature BBQ/red sauce).
For Seward residents, this locally owned and operated restaurant should be a staple in one’s weekly dining decisions. With its participation in the annual Franklin Frolic and the Dining Out For Life fundraising events, it’s clear that this restaurant’s interests move beyond food and toward a sense of community engagement. With great customer service, reasonable prices, an intimate dining space, and a staff of over 50 diverse and equally-fun personalities, it’s a safe bet to assume that the Lucé on Franklin won’t be moving anywhere soon.
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