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Gourmet pizza place to debut in January in the Village Shops


Out with the peonies, in with the pepperoni. In the little green cottage that for 33 years housed the same florist shop, Deb’s Flowers for You, Village Shops developer and national clothing retailer Jay McLaughlin is hoping to open his own gourmet pizza place.

That’s assuming the Indian River Town Council backs the idea at its Sept. 24 regular meeting. The town’s planning, zoning and variance board has already given it the thumbs up.

“The menu’s going to be very limited, strictly pizza and salads, beer and wine,” says McLaughlin, a New Yorker who with his wife Joan bought a home in Vero six years ago. Last week, he was back up north refreshing his memory of the city’s classic pizza, and testing out the latest in its gourmet versions.

“I think people all have a soft spot for pizza,” he says.

The pizzeria, tentatively named Il Pellicano after the resort hotel in Tuscany, will be comparable in style to the Village Shops’ existing restaurant, Citron Bistro, retaining the elegance of the plaza while featuring mostly outdoor seating. “This isn’t going to be a place with neon signs and a take-out window. It’s going to be tasteful, like everything we do.”

McLaughlin hopes to draw more foot traffic to the plaza’s southern end, much as Citron Bistro has since it opened in 2014 in the rear central area of the complex.

“The two complement each other,” says McLaughlin. “We’ve gotten nothing but compliments about the way Citron turned out. This is going to bring the same level of excitement to the south end.”

If all goes well, the space will be ready for business in January. So far, they’ve already cleaned up the rear patio of the property where tables, chairs and umbrellas will be set against new landscaping that will include an arbor for more shade.  The building is next door to Noteworthy, a stationery store.

“The house is adorable. It’s a charming space,” says McLaughlin. “It’ll be fabulous when it’s all done.”

The couple are looking at pizza ovens, trying to decide between electric, wood-fired and gas-fired.

 “My intention is really to bring to 32963 some of the experience I’ve lived in New York,” he says.

People on the barrier island “want to be current,” he says. “They want anything that‘s new and fresh and interesting. That’s why I’ve been handpicking everything that goes in there. I’d rather have an empty space than something that doesn’t fit in.”

Meanwhile, Deb Lietz, owner of Flowers for You, just moved her flower coolers and buckets into her  new home in Pelican Plaza, a couple of miles south.

“It was a blessing in disguise,” she says of being told last month her Village Shops lease would not be renewed. “It’s a much bigger space and there’s parking right out front. I love it.”