There is an immediate warm and inviting feeling that wraps around any visitor the minute you walk into Mineo’s Pizza and Wings on Mayfield Lane in Franklin. Perhaps it is the bright smile of owner Jenn Mineo that you know is there, even under the face mask.
Best known for their pizza and wings, they have survived much, including the 2008 recession and COVID-19 because they make everyone feel like family, the food is consistently good, and the service is always top-notch.
Mineo’s recently celebrated its 15 year anniversary. They shared this memory on Facebook:
Loved by Long-Standing Regulars
As a regular, Eddie George, the former Tennessee Titans player and actor said, “I have been going to Jenn’s restaurant for about 15 years. I go weekly with my son. My favorite item is the cauliflower crust pizza with peperoni and sausage, and my son likes the cheese pizza. We share an order of wings with the honey barbecue sauce.”
Originally from the East Coast, George says he is a connoisseur of pizza, and he considers Mineo’s pizza the best in the city. But he is not the only one who has been coming to Mineo’s for a long time, so have Johnny and Linda Lu Lovier. They have been coming for 12 years with their granddaughter, ever since she was a baby.
“My granddaughter gets to choose where we come to eat after Brentwood Academy basketball games,” said Linda Lu Lovier. “They have good food, good service, and games my granddaughter and her friends love to play.”
“We come with tons of quarters and play the duck game,” added her husband, Johnny. “We have a very expensive collection of all kinds of rubber ducks at our house, but we love it. We’ve never had a bad experience.”
Both agree that it is great to find a place where kids and adults can come to together and everyone can have a good time.
“This is a testament to how amazing and supportive our regulars have been,” said Mineo. “They have stuck with me through all the highs and lows, throughout the years, and continue to be my greatest cheerleaders. It blows my mind that we have survived this long, but Mineo’s has been symbolic to my life in so many ways. It has weathered through so many storms and challenges that should have taken it out, yet by the Grace of God it is still standing.”
Built with Grit Through Trial and Error
Mineo’s owner Jennifer Mineo moved here from South Florida with her now ex-husband, who grew up cooking in the restaurant industry.
“When we opened the doors in 2005,” said Mineo, “I was a 24-year-old new mom with zero skills in owning a business. After our divorce a few years into the marriage, he went on to do other things, and it was on me to make the place work for the sake of my son’s future. I taught myself the ins and outs of this business through trial and error, and made more mistakes than I could count, …[but] those mistakes turned out to be some of my greatest teachers. The restaurant business is not for the faint of heart, and If you want to understand what pressure truly feels like it will offer you countless opportunities.”
One example of pressure Mineo related was a time the restaurant was packed on a Friday night in the dead of summer with a line out the door. She was short a cook and a server, when an A/C unit and computer system stopped working simultaneously. “I have had many days like this,” she said with a smile, “and yet we pressed on.”
She feels the restaurant is truly a living, breathing entity that she could write a book about. But through all of her story, she has strived to create a culture of warmth.
Creating a Feeling of Being with Family
“The staff has always become like family to me,” added Mineo, “so in turn the guests are essentially coming into our home and becoming part of the family as well. Or we always try to make them feel that way.”
As an example, Mineo explains that she has 13 TVs that she gives the remote over to the guys who come in. It is set up so that each television could be on a different game, if that is the way the guys want it.
“Parents love that they can come in and enjoy a meal and maybe a glass of wine or a cold beer with some peace,” added Mineo, “while the arcade games keep the little ones entertained.”
Wednesday night trivia has turned strangers into one big competitive family vying for first place. It’s a popular way to break up the monotony of the work week.
In addition, they have housed countless events for their guests, including graduation parties, wedding receptions, baby showers, and memorials after funerals. “This little restaurant has been an integral part in some of the most important moments of our client’s lives,” said Mineo, “which has truly been an honor I will never take lightly.”
She also has adult staff working for her now who currently wait on people at the tables where they ate when they were children coming in with their parents and siblings. “So many full circle moments that have been able to happen here because of our longevity,” said Mineo.
Quality Ingredients Made Fresh
Because the location is tucked away off the beaten path in an area swarming with restaurants, most people still have never even heard of them. It is a place well worth seeking out. All of the food is cooked fresh. It may take a little longer, but nothing is frozen or pre-cooked and flash-fried.
They do not do “fast food” here. Mineo always likes to give that disclaimer to people who may be dining in a hurry. “We serve fresh jumbo wings that are cooked to order. This lends to the perfect crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside wing we have become known for. They are then tossed in your choice of 20 different sauces…If you have ever had a chewy or dry wing you will definitely notice the difference with ours, and I believe it will be worth the wait.”
Their number one seller is their pizza, which is a hand-tossed New York style pizza. “We make our dough and sauce using an old family recipe with 100% natural ingredients, and our premium mozzarella is free of binders and fillers. For those with food sensitives, we also offer a dairy-free cheese, as well as a gluten-free cauliflower crust which is delicious and literally tastes nothing like its namesake vegetable.”
Mineo also offers an assortment of pastas, salads, sandwiches, and leave room for an ooey, gooey dessert – like Deep Fried Oreos or Italian Doughnuts.
Determined to Keep Serving Good Food for Families
“When the pandemic first hit,” added Mineo, “we had to shut down our dining room for nearly two months and offer take out only, which was a huge financial blow. I didn’t know if we would be able to make it through, and with so much uncertainty ahead, am hesitant to say the worst of these days are behind us. However, so far, we are hanging in there, and like the 2008 economic crash we survived, I like to believe this is just another challenge we will overcome and be stronger for in the end!”
Regular diners and those who have just discovered Mineo’s are sure to do whatever they can to help Jenn celebrate another 15 years and more.