Tenino added one more restaurant to its bounty on Monday, thanks to Miriam Garcia and husband Jose Villegas, who opened up Pizza Mia.
On Monday, Garcia and Villegas held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting for Pizza Mia, which is their second establishment in town. The new restaurant is located at 324 Sussex Ave. W., right next door to their Mexican restaurant, Los Compadres.
The couple has three daughters together, and have been a fixture in Tenino for the last five years. They moved from Shelton to open Los Compadres in the Stone City.
Their oldest daughter, age 13, helps out at the Mexican restaurant and will also be working to serve the public at Pizza Mia with her extended family.
It’s the children that sparked the inspiration for Pizza Mia’s inception, Garcia told The Chronicle.
“(Villegas) had always worked kitchens, so we started five years ago with our Mexican restaurant,” Garcia said. “And then one day he said, ‘You know, I know how to make pizza’ — because the kids wanted pizza — and then he’s like, ‘I’ll make you pizza.’ I said, ‘You don’t know how to make pizza,’ and he’s like, ‘Yeah, I used to work at a pizza store.’”
In all, Villegas has 17 years of experience in the food industry. Thanks to his kids and his prior experience, Pizza Mia came to be.
Garcia and Villegas looked for a suitable Tenino location for the fledgling business idea for a couple of years. That search ended when the shop next door to Los Compadres opened up. The same day the listing went live, the restaurateurs “scooped it up,” Garcia said.
Pizza Mia serves traditional Italian pasta dishes and also hot wings, but the main course is the pizzas, to which Garcia and Villegas have added a Mexican flair.
Los Compadres’ popular Mexican version of a Philly cheesesteak has received a second life as a specialty pizza, but that’s not what sold the most on opening day, Garcia said.
“Yesterday was the grand opening and the most popular pizza was the Al Pastor,” Garcia said on Tuesday. “People loved it.”
Al pastor is a traditional Mexican street taco of meat marinated with pineapples.
There are also specialty pizzas that have a more Italian flair, like the chicken alfredo and chicken carbonara pizzas.
If Monday’s grand opening is any indicator, Pizza Mia’s culinary creations will be popular.
“Yesterday, we ran out of dough,” Garcia said Tuesday. “In seven hours, we had sold 100 pizzas already. It was crazy. We had to close for the day, like three hours ahead of time because we were not anticipating that much support.”
Starting soon, Pizza Mia will begin offering daily specials, Garcia said.
“We have so many pizzas that did not make it to the menu, so we’re saving them for specials,” she said.
George Sharp, the manager of the Tenino Creative District, said the restaurant adds creativity to Tenino’s palate.
“Pizza Mia has proven that they have been creative with their menu and will be a wonderful culinary addition to our Tenino Creative District,” Sharp said.
Cheryl Pearce, the president of the Tenino Area Chamber of Commerce, said she welcomes another restaurant in Tenino’s core.
“We are happy to have another business open and be part of downtown Tenino,” Pearce said in a statement to The Chronicle. “They will help us create a critical mass of things to experience to attract visitors to our community, as well as for our residents to enjoy.”
For Garcia, the work is only beginning.
“We will try to provide the best pizza and best service that we can, and we appreciate the people of Tenino so very much,” she said.
Pizza Mia is open from noon to 9 p.m. Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and from noon to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.