Upon retiring many have dreams of travel, leisure or pursuing life-long hobbies. Jimmy and Susan DeAcutis took a completely different route. They chose a brand new career path when they started Jimmy’s Pizza.
The DeAcutis family moved to St. Augustine from New York in 2013. Jimmy had taken an early retirement from a telecom company in 2011 and his wife, a school teacher, saw an opportunity to change their lives for the better and move to St. Augustine. When they had visited relatives here for Christmas in 2011, they instantly fell in love with the city and its people, beaches and history. They had grown tired of the winters in New York and so in July, they packed up and moved down with their three children. Sue found a job immediately, and the move and new life was wonderful for everyone.
After the move, Jimmy tried different ventures and writing. Earlier, he had published a book called Peter Cooper and the Pirate King and was working on the sequel – but thought he should probably look for work to help supplement their income and savings. However, nothing Jimmy came up with really appealed to him. He had spent his previous career tied behind a desk and knew he didn’t want to do that again. Other than writing and being a musician, there was really nothing he was passionate about. Except cooking!
Jimmy has always loved to cook; first out of necessity as a young bachelor and then for his family and friends. Over the years, he became pretty good and took particular pride in his pasta sauce and meatballs as well as other Italian fare. He truly enjoyed making his family and friends smile with his cooking. But, even with that, he hadn’t thought about putting that talent to use outside of his home. Then, one day he had an “aha” moment.
Since moving to St. Augustine, Jimmy had been driving down Lewis Speedway a few times per week going into town and had noticed an empty building next to St. Augustine High School and wondered about its use. Had it become abandoned or never used? The building’s commercial design seemed so out of place in the midst of all the residential homes that it intrigued Jimmy. One day, while driving past, Jimmy looked at the building and thought a pizzeria would be perfect there! The seed was planted and began to grow as he became more excited by the idea of opening his own pizzeria.
Jimmy had no idea how to proceed – having never owned a restaurant – so he contacted the Small Business Development Corp and began the long process until he was ready to open in June of 2017. It was during this process, that Jimmy realized he needed to make a great pizza in order to be successful. He knew how to make delicious sauce and meatballs but had never made pizza before. So, he did some research, looking up recipes, watching videos and came up with a recipe for dough that he liked and a blend for pizza sauce that tasted delicious too. Now it was time to look for pizza makers who could take his ingredients and make beautiful pizzas.
He put an ad out and interviewed a number of potential pizza makers but became frustrated with how difficult it was to find someone who was really good at making pizzas. Jimmy never imagined it would be so difficult! After many unsuccessful interviews, his luck finally changed and Embury joined the team. She is brilliant and has taught Jimmy everything he knows about making pizza (to the point that he’s become pretty good in the last six months!) She came in and tweaked his dough recipe (which didn’t translate perfectly from his 5-lb batch to the 25-lb batches they use now) to the point that people rave about their crust and say it’s the best they’ve ever had in Florida. Being from New York, Jimmy was looking for pizza as good as he’d had up north and what they make at Jimmy’s Pizza is as good as he’s ever had.
Jimmy believes what makes their pizza the best is their commitment to quality and authentic New York style pizza. When he cooks for customers he cooks like he does for his family. He won’t put anything on the table he wouldn’t give his own. It makes him so happy when a customer comes in and says their friend or neighbor told them they “have to try Jimmy’s”. The repeat customers speak for themselves. But what make him happiest is when a customer from the northeast says they haven’t had pizza like his since they left home. That shows Jimmy they’re doing it right.