The former co-owners of the Tuscan Grille now ply their trademark across from the Flagler Pier
Dawn and Miguel Romero want everyone to know they are back.
The former co-owners of the Tuscan Grille and Sweet Waters Smokehouse Bar & Grill (at the address currently inhabited by Hidden Treasure Raw Bar & Grill) opened Romero’s Tuscany by the Sea at 308 S. Ocean Shore Blvd., Flagler Beach, in July 2019, after a four-and-a-half year absence from the restaurant business.
“It’s unpredictable, at best,” Dawn Romero said of the restaurant business, “and you need to be in it for the long haul.”
Those last two places, co-owned with partners, merged in 2014 and abruptly closed in 2015 due to financial difficulties, many of them resulting from a car accident that left Miguel badly injured. But neither of them now believes the long gap was a great detriment.
“For us, it’s a good thing,” Miguel said. “With all the time that passed, we gained more experience. It got better.”
“It gave us, as a family, time to grow,” Dawn said.
And time to grow as restaurateurs, too.
“We came up with some new things,” she said, “but all the old traditional dishes are still here — the pasta rustica, chicken panzanella, the veal valdastano. And we’ve done a lot of renovations to this property.”
The building they now inhabit — a 68-seat venue versus around 76 at their last location — was formerly home to Rocky’s Original Pizza Place, Joseph’s Bistro, Pasta Pasta and Southside Grill. What used to be the storage room has been converted into another, more intimate dining area, and new awning should be put up by Jan. 13.
“It’s manageable,” Dawn said of the slightly smaller space. And, being so close to the Flagler Pier, “It’s easy to describe to people where it is.”
Dawn and Miguel both described the local business environment as familial and inviting to newcomers.
“It’s a very close-knit community,” Dawn said. “We patronize all the other local businesses — Tortuga’s, Flagler Fish Company, Funky Pelican, Johnny D’s… we swap gift cards, too.”
While the new location has brought a lot of fresh clientele to discover their cooking, is has not taken long for the Romeros’ old customer base to find them all over again.
“Word of mouth has been spreading,” Dawn said, “more and more people are coming in and saying ‘We just heard the Tuscan Grille reopened!’”
Not only have old customers been returning, but the opening of Tuscany by the Sea has been a reunion of old employees. Once again Miguel has been working alongside his brother Jose, just as he did at the Tuscan Grille and Sweet Waters, adult daughters Victoria and Elizabeth and teenaged Aryanna work there taking orders, waiting tables, and staff came back from out-of-state to help renovate the new location and return to their old roles.
The Romeros believe it’s this feeling of family, as much as sauces made to order and veal freshly pounded, that has kept people coming back to them.
“We were always there, hands on,” Dawn said.
“We are working as a family,” Miguel said.