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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Gullo’s gets back to cooking

South Shreveport restaurant expands after fire


  Gullo’s Fresh Produce and Bake Shop could be considered the latest phoenix in Shreveport – arising from the ashes, regenerated with a new and expanded location.
  After an electrical fire damaged much of the restaurant last year, general manager Craig Hamilton decided to upgrade and expand. The restaurant, located at 724 E. Flournoy Lucas Road, has added almost 1,100 square feet and now offers indoor dining.
  Though, Hamilton said the fire was an eye-opening experience.
  “They say you really don’t know what you have until it is all gone,” Hamilton said. “That fire was traumatic for my entire family. Something that my grandparents had given their entire life to was suddenly gone.
  “I could hardly believe that an incident so bizarre could just happen out of nowhere,” Hamilton said. “Faith was all we had the next morning.”
  Since the fire, a lot has changed. 
  “We’re a small business, and to make sure we stick around, we had to take things to the next level. My team and co-workers are nothing short of amazing and strive for perfection just as I do. I’m very grateful to be surrounded by people with that kind of drive.”
  Hamilton said he also took this chance to reconsider menu items.
  “We also had a chance to re-evaluate every single item we cooked, served and sold, and how to make it the absolute best quality at the most affordable price,” Hamilton said. “We don’t settle when it comes to serving food, and we want the entire city to know what we have to offer.”
  Gullo’s offers daily lunch plates with fresh, cooked vegetables, home-style hamburgers and sandwiches from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., as well as take-home casseroles, ice box pies, home-grown produce and signature jellies and jams such as mayhaw and muscadine berry.
  For Hamilton the roots of Gullo’s run deep. Hamilton’s grandparents evolved Gullo’s from what was once a car garage/produce stand in 1970 into the nostalgic full-serve restaurant it is today.  
  “Gullo’s has been my next-door neighbor my entire life,” Hamilton said. 
  “I remember in elementary school I would wake before my bus ride to help my grandfather, John Gullo, clean and run produce for the stand. Before I was able to reach the counter, I was bagging groceries for customers for small tips. As I grew older, I started to cashier, and from there it swallowed me whole.” 
  Hamilton said it was his grandparents who evolved the restaurant from a produce stand.
  “My grandparents really engaged themselves, expanding from just produce, to baked goods and then on to serving hot lunch during the day,” Hamilton said. “At Gullo’s, we try to give our customers as many options possible, all the way from your sweet tooth, to the dinner table, to your short lunch break needs.” 
  Hamilton said he takes pride in his business.
  “Unlike your average restaurant, when you walk in our establishment you see a variety of home-grown local produce that we rotate and wash every morning,” Hamilton said. “We offer those vegetables for customers to buy themselves, and we also use the same produce for our ingredients. We have over 15 different take-home casseroles and fresh-cooked vegetables all day, every day.”
  Homemade rolls are made daily, and Gullo’s hand-presses their hamburger patties each morning before lunch. 
  “We spend countless hours perfecting our hand-cut French fries for our customers, and we love it,” Hamilton said. “Our community has supported us endlessly, and we want to show our appreciation through our food labor.”
  At the end of the day, it’s all about the customers. “We want our customers to be able to come sit down and enjoy a home-cooked meal without feeling the need to be rushed or over-crowded,” Hamilton said. 
  Hamilton said he still runs the business by the words of his grandparents.
  “My grandparents always said, ‘The first time you come in, you’re a customer. The second time you come in, you’re family,’” he said. 


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