Melvin and Carmen Paiz celebrate six months in business on March 21, on Palm Harbor Parkway in Palm Coast.
Pizza brought them together, and making pizza is now their occupation.
Melvin Paiz was working in Jan and Marco Cruz’s pizza place in Bunnell when he first met Carmen. They said hello and talked every now and then, when Carmen stopped in for lunch.
As they got to know each other, Paiz started attending Carmen’s kids’ soccer games.
“She got me,” Paiz recalled in a March 16 interview with the Palm Coast Observer. “Best thing that ever happened to me.”
The two were married 13 years ago.
When they dreamed up the idea to start their own pizza place, Carmen Paiz was uncertain. Her background was working with children; when they first met, she cared for infants of teen mothers at Flagler Palm Coast High School. She had never worked in a restaurant.
Once they decided to go for it, they settled on Unit A at the BP gas station on Palm Harbor Parkway. It had been a pizza place in the past as well, but they began making it their own in July 2019, aiming for a Sept. 21, 2019, opening. They put up brick wallpaper, a New York skyline and put checkered table clothes on the tables. They added wicker benches, and, later a bar by the window for quick lunches. They added mesh to the windows to block the sun and make the dining area feel separate from the gas station. It all seemed to be working.
Quest for the perfect crust
But Melvin Paiz wanted the food to be something special before the opening. He stayed late at the restaurant during that time, trying out different combinations for subs and, especially, trying to perfect the crust.
He knew he wanted a New York style pie, with thin, crispy crust. But in some places he’d eaten, the crust had to be “well done” to get crispy. He decided to experiment to find a dough that could be crispy without being burned. He didn’t do anything drastic, but he added half of a teaspoon more of this, a little less of that.
He still remembers the night, around 9 or 10 p.m.
“Finally, I tried it, and I said, ‘I think this is it,’” he recalled. “I celebrated by myself. I was here alone.”
Later, his friends and his children tried it, and they agreed. This was it.
“It was really good,” Carmen Paiz recalled. “I’ve always loved his pizzas, but this was even better.”
The restaurant has done well since it opened, and there are several regulars who come in for lunch. The Paizes are hoping some day to expand to a larger space. Right now they have four tables, plus the bar at the window. They serve beer, drafts and wine.
Visit emiliospizzapc.com or call 386-627-8991 or 386-627-8992. Visit 1755 Palm harbor Parkway, Unit A. 3217.