A magnificent mushroom mural, hand painted by a local artist, is just one way the newly opened Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers serves South Miami.
Former South Miami Police Chief Vincent Landis and his son Grady opened the franchise Feb. 23 at the Shops at Sunset Place, 5701 Sunset Dr.
“My experience in South Miami as a police chief was very positive,” said Landis, who served the city from 2005 to 2007. “I enjoyed my time here and I think South Miami is a beautiful community. When I was looking to open up a restaurant down here, in the Greater Miami Area, South Miami was the first one on my list. I was very familiar with the area after being the chief there. It’s a very unique little city. I think its very quaint I think it’s a good fit for our product.”
The first Mellow Mushroom opened in 1974 in Atlanta, but the franchise now has nearly 200 locations. Before the South Miami restaurant opened, the nearest South Florida location was in Delray Beach. The South Miami location has 52 beers on tap, a self-serve tap table, a full bar, and stone pizza ovens.
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The Landises purchased their first Mellow Mushroom franchise in 2007 in Athens, Ga.
Vincent Landis said it was important for him to bring Mellow Mushroom to South Miami, a city he once served. After initially hiring 125 people, Landis is still looking to add to the staff.
“We are absolutely still looking to hire,” Landis said. “As staffing goes, some people can keep up with the pace. It is very fast paced because of the volume we go through. We are always looking for good qualified servers and cooks.”
Landis said the restaurant served about 600 people at its grand opening. Each of Landis’ locations is 6,500 square feet.
“It’s important to me to bring jobs into the community and support the community,” Landis said. “I love South Miami. I can’t say enough about it. It’s a great community.”
Landis has 40 years of law enforcement experience. He was born and raised in Miami before earning his bachelor’s degree from St. Thomas University. He joined the Miami Police Department in 1967 and retired as a major in 2001. He was then selected from pool of 75 candidates nationwide to serve as South Miami police chief.
South Miami Commissioner Josh Liebman recently expressed his excitement for the new tenant at the Shops at Sunset Place.
“[Landis] is a great guy,” Liebman said. “It’s nice to have him return to the community, even though he kept his house here. It’s nice to have him return and invest in the community. It’s an important location because a number of businesses have struggled there. It’s public record that the Shops at Sunset Place are for sale.”
“It adds to the tenant mix and it’s not an interior structure,” Liebman said. “They front Sunset Drive.”
The Landis family now lives in the Roads neighborhood but also have a home in Georgia.
“The grand opening was a huge success,” Vincent Landis said. “I was very happy with the turnout. It got a really warm welcome from the community. They take a little bit longer than your normal pizzas that you would get at most of your other kinds of pizza bakers but ours is hand crafted with fresh ingredients everyday and fresh produce. It’s a very good and unique product.”
Son Grady attended Georgia State University, where he was first introduced to the restaurant. Grady Landis said he looks forward to hosting the local community for game-viewing parties, happy hour, charity fundraisers, and other events in the future.
“It’s not just any franchise,” Liebman said. “It’s a franchise with a cult following so it will immediately bring new traffic to South Miami. It’s a fun place with a fun vibe and he has been in there all the time.”