“Mediterranean and Italian both lend themselves well to that atmosphere,” said Cohen, owner of Tony & Luigi’s Restaurante. “It gives us the opportunity to provide guests with comfort food that everyone likes.”
Cohen took over the restaurant in January after buying it from Frank and Nezira Zulcic, who opened Tony & Luigi’s in 2008.
Cohen said he wanted to carry on the business the Zulcics had been perfecting for more than 10 years.
“I loved it. I grew up with neighborhood Italian food, with stuff like the classic red sauce,” he said. “For me they just nailed it.”
Cohen has continued the Zulcics’ commitment to make everything from scratch. Employees roll out bread 15 times a day, and sauces are also made fresh daily.
The Zulcics’ daughter, Zana Zulcic-Capelj, and her husband, Damir Capelj, still work in the restaurant. Zulcic-Capelj, the general manager, decided not to take over the restaurant when her parents retired.
“I already love Jamie like family and expect to stay here for years,” she said.
Cohen said he is lucky Zulcic-Capelj decided to stay.
“We have the same ideas as far as culture, sales [and] how to treat people,” he said. “We have the same vision for the restaurant.”
Since taking over, Cohen has made few changes to the menu and no changes to the food. The restaurant now serves more Italian wines, including some that are exclusive to restaurants like Tony & Luigi’s. He also added a lunch menu featuring Italian subs.
Cohen, previously the chief operating officer for Kerbey Lane Cafe, said he has plans for expansion, but does not plan to build another Tony & Luigi’s at this time.
“This location is really special,” he said. “I think a lot of brands make the mistake of having something special and they say, ‘Hey, we can do this bigger and better somewhere else,’ and it’s just not the same.”
Tony & Luigi’s Restaurante
1201 S. Church St., Georgetown
Hours: Sun.–Thu. 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–10 p.m.