Before I talk about Michael, I want to make readers aware that due to changes at Patch.com, this will be my last Manchester Perspectives column. It has been an amazing experience for me. It's been an honor writing about so many interesting people, that make up the fabric of the “City of Village Charm.”
There is a common thread among the people that I have interviewed. Every person I wrote about has a passion for what they are involved in, whether they own a business, work in a non-profit organization, volunteer, or are retired. I want to thank Manchester Patch for this opportunity.
Manchester Patch editor Dave Moran suggested that I contact Michael Kelley, after seeing the remodeling work at 775 Main St. going on for the past few weeks. I called, and Michael asked me to meet him at his new location.
Timothy Becker: Michael, how did you get started into the pizza business?
Michael Kelley: I started working in my Uncle Mario's restaurant “Teresa's” in Ware, Massachusetts at age 15. After one 15 hour shift I knew that this what I wanted to do.
Timothy Becker: When did you open your pizza shop on East Center Street?
Michael Kelley: I opened Filomena's in 1997 and I have been looking for a building in the area for the past 10 years, but there wasn't anything available. I liked the idea of moving to Main Street, with all the positive things that are happening on Main Street I bought the building last fall. This used to be Woolworths Department Store.
Timothy Becker: What type of renovation work have you done?
Michael Kelley: I did a complete remodeling including a new storefront, new tile, new stucco walls, a granite bar top, restored tin ceiling, new booths, tables, four new pizza ovens, and a spiral dough mixer from Italy that is programmable, to insure complete consistency every time. A new heating and air conditioning system was installed to insure that temperature and humidity remains constant.
Timothy Becker: What specialties will you be offering at Filomena's Pizzeria on Main Street?
Michael Kelley: Pizza is our staple. We offer six sizes of 30 specialty pizzas and we offer 30 varieties of grinders. We offer thin or thick crust and we will also be offering a gluten free pizza. We also will serve dinners, including recipes from my mother Lena who emigrated here from Agnone, Italy which is a province of Molise, including eggplant and veal. We also will be serving my wife Filomena's broccoli and chicken. For dessert we will have cannoli and fried dough.
Timothy Becker: Do you plan to operate both restaurants?
Michael Kelley: Yes, Fillomena's Pizza Shoppe www.pizzashoppect.com at 267 East Center St. will remain open and Filomena's Pizzeria on Main www.filomeanspizza.com at 775 Main St. will be opening in February with our grand opening in the spring. Our Main Street location is about double the size, with seating for 30 in the dinning room. We will be open seven days a week: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Sundays.
Timothy Becker: Michael, what have you learned after all these years in the restaurant business?
Michael Kelly: I have learned to change with the times and to take chances with menu items, and to respond to customer needs. We didn't deliver for the first five years that I was in business. People just kept asking us to deliver. We started delivering and it has increased our business. We are now always trying something different. We have a new pizza and a grinder of the month. This month we have a steak and egg grinder, and we have lasagna pizza. The new pizza is made with seasoned regatta, crumbled meatball, diced pepperoni, three kinds of cheeses ,with lasagna pasta strips. In March we will offer a Ruben pizza: pastrami, Swiss and mozzarella cheese, sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing on a pizza. If a new item is popular, we will add it to our regular menu.