WARWICK, RI — The success of Mike & Gel’s Pizza since 2017 earned owner Angelica Penta the capital to convert it into the breakfast spot she’d planned for it to be.
“We wanted breakfast from the beginning but we couldn’t change it right away,” said Penta, who also owns the business with her husband, Mike.
Penta wanted to open a sister breakfast restaurant to their West Warwick location, Gel’s, but their landlord insisted that they run the former site of Palazzo’s Pizza as another pizza place. They agreed.
The Pentas spent the next two years working to make sure Mike & Gel’s Pizza was a success. The hard work paid off, and the restaurant enjoyed booming business while they worked to save enough money to eventually convert the location into a breakfast operation. Penta waitressed at the pizza place, earning tips that she invested back into the business, until finally, on June 28, they were ready to close down for the remake.
Warwick’s Gel’s Kitchen opened Sept. 3, with the same menu patrons of their West Warwick location will recognize.
Getting the site ready for business was a lot of work particularly during the week before reopening.
“My husband and I didn’t sleep for a day,” Penta said, ” On opening day I crashed. I was falling asleep on the counter.”
For customers who pine for the pizza place’s meatball sandwiches, there’s good news – the sandwich is coming back as a special.
The Warwick Gel’s Kitchen also offers homemade pies, and desserts, and, Penta said, she lobbied with Mike to keep their liquor license, which he was skeptical would be worth the effort. Keeping the license itself is only a few hundred dollars, but insurance to keep the license costs about $1,000 a year. Penta insisted she could make it pay off, and began selling $6 mimosas with their breakfast menu.
The restaurant sold 48 mimosas within the first five days.
Business has been very successful for the new breakfast spot, which sports an old-fashioned diner atmosphere and decor.
“A lot of people are coming in and saying, ‘Oh, I remember that,” Penta said. They even have a working jukebox, she said, though she’s not sure the customers realize it isn’t just decoration.
The new place also employs about five more people than the pizza spot did, she said, and she’ll probably hire a few more.
Penta said she’ll wait a few more weeks and work out any challenges that arise before hosting a grand opening, probably next month, with characters for the kids like Elmo and Mickey and Minnie. “We’ll make a big weekend out of it,” Penta said.
Further along in their future, Penta hopes to renovate a vintage diner and attach it to the restaurant. “I’ve always wanted to have a diner,” Penta said. “Hopefully, it will work.
3003 W Shore Rd, Warwick
Open 7 a.m. till 2 p.m.