El Fredo Pizza

The former home of Little Italy’s at 821 Cherry Street will soon be the location of El Fredo Pizza. The Vermillion City Council approved a retail on-off sale malt beverage and retail on-off sale wine license for the restaurant at its Jan. 6 meeting.

A new restaurant is coming to town, filling the spot that for years was the home of Little Italy’s before it closed its doors at 821 Cherry Street.

El Fredo Pizza will soon be open for business at that address, if all goes according to plans.

At its Jan. 6 meeting, the Vermillion City Council approved a retail on-off sale malt beverage and retail on-off sale wine license for R&D Management LLC, the operators of El Fredo Pizza.

“The city council has the ability to issue a license on two criteria: suitable applicant and suitable location,” Finance Officer Mike Carlson said. “As for the suitable applicant, the stockholders of R&D Management LLC have submitted the information for the DCI (Department of Criminal Investigation) background check.”

Police Chief Matt Betzen, in a memo to the city council, noted that applicant has no criminal record that would disqualify it from receiving the two licenses.

“With respect to the location criteria, the city has previously issued a license to this location being Little Italy’s – both a malt beverage and a wine license,” Carlson told the aldermen. “The application fee of $500 for the wine and cider license will be retained by the city. The $300 malt beverage fee – half is retained by the city and half is to the state.”

Dale Hein, a managing partner of R&D Management LLC, told the city council that the company is looking forward to locating a new El Fredo restaurant in Vermillion, with hopes to open its doors on Jan. 27.

“We are extremely thrilled to be bringing an El Fredo franchise here to Vermillion,” he said. “We have been in the bar and nightclub business since 1998; we have held two full liquor licenses in Woodbury County and Sioux City, Iowa. I have 56 letters of accreditation from the governor of Iowa. There was never one time over eight years that we were stung for selling to minors cigarettes, liquor or beer.

“We play by the rules, we do everything correctly and we are excited to apply for this license to be able to offer beer and wine to our guests,” Hein said.

“We really appreciate you speaking on your record so far, but can you tell us what your plans are on when you’re thinking you may be opening, if you’re offering any job openings and what you’re expecting in terms of space, menu – anything like that that you can tell us?” Alderman Julia Hellwege asked.

“The first full day will be Jan. 27, so I’m trying to figure out how to work within that schedule because we are just now beginning the hiring process,” Hein said. “I can’t say that I can have someone there that morning because we don’t know yet. We are currently hiring; I am talking to the building owner about space on the marquee out front to put a sign on.”

He said there are plans for a fresh coat of paint on the restaurant’s interior walls.

Hein also talked about the restaurant’s menu choices.

“If you haven’t had El Fredo’s pizza – I can tell you I’ve done a lot of traveling and it is the best pizza I have ever had. It’s incredible,” he said. “I have been eating El Fredo’s pizza for 40 years; when I was a kid, I grew up four blocks from the original El Fredo Pizza on West 19th and Hamilton in Sioux City. Every Saturday, my friend and I would walk up and split a medium pizza.

“Here I am, 40 years later, and still it’s just the best. People in Sioux City will wait an hour-and-a-half, two hours for a pizza. I was there on a Thursday night, working in the kitchen and learning the process,” Hein said. “One of the kids was answering the phones and at that point, there was an hour-and-a-half wait for a pizza. Not one person hung up or said no,” Hein said. “It’s that good.”

Fred Lennon, then a livestock buyer by day at the Sioux City Stockyards, opened El Fredo Pizza in Sioux City in 1957. The first restaurant was located at 27th and Pierce Streets. The business moved to 24th and Court Streets in Sioux City in 1958 and remained at that location through 1987, when it moved to its current Sioux City location at 523 West 19th Street.

The menu of El Fredo Pizza in Vermillion also will include several pasta dishes, Hein told the city council.

“All the recipes are original – the spaghetti, the lasagna – all of the pasta dishes are outstanding,” he said. “We’re adding a few things.”

Hein said the Sioux City restaurant isn’t open for lunch, but the Vermillion restaurant will be.

“We’re going to have a selection of both Italian and American sandwiches; salads will be available for lunch as well as some of best buffalo wings in South Dakota,” he said.

Hein also made sure that aldermen were aware of the assistance he received from Carlson.

“The process in South Dakota for applying for a license is quite different than in Iowa,” he said. “This gentleman, Mike Carlson, is outstanding to work with. I made three different trips to his office. First, I filled out the forms wrong because I didn’t understand them and he would literally walk me through it every single time … he talked me through the entire thing.

“He is an asset to this city,” Hein said. “He’s just outstanding.”

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