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When David Maudlin relocated Michela’s Pizzeria earlier this year, he did so having learned a lot of business lessons following decades of working in restaurants across Lee County. 

Maudlin made his pizzeria lean but not mean. He hired just three employees, and he continued to do away with the dine-in concept, as it’s carryout only. 

Formerly off Boy Scout Drive near U.S. 41, Maudlin moved Michela’s to Villas Plaza shopping center at 12377 S. Cleveland Blvd., Unit No. 9, in south Fort Myers, with U.S. 41 to the west and Austin Street to the east. 

“It’s been pretty strong,” Maudlin said of business since he opened near a Jersey Mike’s, Cookie Plug and a pipe shop. “We’re right by the neighborhood of the Villas.” 

And that neighborhood has been kind to Michela’s, which is good, as the New York-style pizzeria does not have visibility from U.S. 41, being on the backside of the shopping center, fronting Austin Street. 

“We get a lot of business there,” Maudlin said of the Villas. He named the carryout restaurant after his wife. “We’ve done a pretty good job of getting them to embrace us. They really enjoy what we do. It’s just been a great move.” 

It’s “mom and pop,” Maudlin said. He looked to Uncle Rico’s in Fort Myers for inspiration. That pizzeria skyrocketed in popularity, thanks to a favorable review in the Washington Post last year. 

Unlike Uncle Rico’s, Maudlin said he‘s yet to run out of pizza supplies on any given day. But he’s content not having a viral moment. What he wants to do is to serve the Villas neighborhood, the best he can. 

Pizzas at Michela’s start at $12.99 for a 12-inch and $18.99 for an 18-inch and up to $25.99 for a large, specialty pizza. Other than the traditional pepperoni pizza, the “Big Italian” has been one of the most popular items on the menu. 

“We’re kind of the neighborhood pizzeria,” Maudlin said. “If that’s our reach, and we can reach 100of these people and take care of them, and all of the neighborhood across the street there, we’re probably happy with that.” 

That said, Maudlin is still operating as if he could get his viral momentwhether he’s ready for it or not. 

“We’ve kind of adopted this model that we’re going to treat every pizza like it’s the one that’s going to make us famous,” Maudlin said. “And we do.” 

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