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Feature No. 5:

VINCENT MORELLI

Occupation: Cook/Enterpreneur/Creative
Age: 30
Current Location: Cleveland, OH
Instagram: @Vincecents @Cents.png

What does being an American Maker mean to you?

To me it means conceptualizing ideas and making a reality. As an American maker I hope to create atmospheres, ideas, and products that bring people together and that promote positive growth in the world.

Was being a chef your first choice?

Being a chef was never even a thought and I still don’t think of myself as a chef. I am a cook for sure, but not a trained chef. It’s out of respect for all the chefs who worked to earn the title. All I ever wanted to do is create a brand driven by a lifestyle, with a sense of community. I initially chose to pursue fashion because I thought since I am into fashion and I like the lifestyle that surrounds it.

What made you leave Cleveland to pursue a career in New York?

I needed to get away from everything that I knew. Throwing myself into the unknown and just figuring it out. I definitely had a plan though. Out of college I decided I was going to work at 10 Deep. It was my favorite clothing brand, and they were working with musicians I idolized. I began interning there in 2013, which turned into a full time product development role. Sounds corny but I grew a lot in New York and learned a lot about myself. I gained a huge network, including some of my best friends.

What made you return to Cleveland and decide to open a restaurant here?

It was the hardest decision I have ever made. I loved it so much there but needed a change. Once I allowed myself to think about change, I realized that fashion wasn’t my medium. I wasn’t the one designing and creating, so I wasn’t fulfilled. Through this, I was able to realize the things I could bring to the table, and that was always food and building a family-like community. So, I decided I was going to move home to Cleveland and create a community like the ones I would miss so much from NYC.

I always knew eventually I’d create something in Cleveland because it lacked a network and platforms for like-minded people. But, I didn’t think it would be so soon. I felt like ‘I can be ahead of the curve if I go now, but if I wait, I will be a follower.’ So, I gave myself a year to make a business plan and sharpen my skills by working at the busiest, most popular pizza restaurant in the neighborhood.

What inspired you to open a restaurant based around Italian cuisine?

Italian cooking has always been a big part of my life. Growing up, my family is how I initially learned to cook. Family recipes took me back to a specific time and place, and when I was living elsewhere, they brought me home. I would have all my friends over in NYC and cook them our Italian food because I was missing the family gatherings. I decided on pizza as the centerpiece of my restaurant because it is casual, laid back, and not pretentious. It’s about the food, but even more so about the experience. The vehicle in which I use to achieve my large goal is food. Through food, I have reintroduced the design, marketing, and music parts of me. I was inspired by my family, but the realization I could use cooking to help achieve my other goals is what drives me.

What is your daily routine that keeps you motivated for your restaurant launch?

My routine is getting up and working. Each day is different, but I stop in the shop at some point and look at the construction progress, which helps me get motivated. Right now, I am in the thick of construction, so I’m trying to get all of my finishes in line so, when the time comes, I’m ready to install. I stay motivated by reminding myself of the bigger picture and my long term goals. It’s very easy to lose sight and get overwhelmed. But, it’s all a part of the process. So, I trust in it and pray that I’m making the right moves to get me where I’m going.

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