A popular pizzeria reopened closer to the heart of downtown Hot Springs on Friday, less than 10 days after closing the Park Avenue location it had called home for the past five years.
Owner Anthony Valinoti said getting DeLuca's Pizzeria open at its new location at 831 Central Ave. was nothing short of a miracle.
For the time being, DeLuca's will keep about the same hours, but over time there will be a few additions to the restaurant folks have come to love, he said.
"We'll probably keep the longer hours, probably be open at night," he said. "We were thinking of putting a bar in here initially, but we just wanted to see what it looked like at the onset and was it actually a good idea to do that.
"We'll definitely be adding some new menu items and some new exciting things that we've thought up that we couldn't do before. I'm just so excited. This is just a dream come true."
The new location is actually a bit smaller than the previous space on Park Avenue, but Valinoti said less square footage won't make a difference.
"I always say this, 'Is it the proper size space for us?' No. 'Is it the right location for us?' The answer is yes. That's what it comes down to," he said. "We have never ever, in the five years that I've done this, had any kind of walking traffic. No one's ever walked by us so we hope to introduce ourselves to a bunch of new people and hopefully they'll enjoy it as much as everybody else has the last five years."
On Thursday, DeLuca's welcomed a group on an economic tour of downtown Hot Springs as a somewhat soft opening. However, Valinoti joked shortly before opening Friday that he was about to get run over by customers.
"It's pretty amazing how we were tucked away where nobody saw us, but I think the biggest problem with the business always was we couldn't get enough people in there throughout the course of the day," he said. "Thank goodness we would always be busy from like 4-8 p.m., but that meant the old man always had to work a little bit harder than he wanted to. Tonight, I think it's the same thing."
Valinoti said business will be great in the new neighborhood.
"I think it's going to be great," he said. "Our business is going to be good for their business, and we want that. We want to keep all the business down here. We don't want people to go to chains. We want people to eat downtown, drink downtown, play downtown, shop downtown. That's what we're all about and that's exactly what it is."