OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – If pizza is life, the crust must be the foundation.

“It’s always been the crust,” says Gannon Mendez. “It was always about bread in our house.”

For Mendez that foundation rests on his Sicilian and Italian family history.

His great grandparents had a little bar and restaurant by the railroad tracks in western Colorado.

Grandma Lena could always tell when to put the sauce on the stove.

Gannon tells us, “What would happen was, she would go out there and feel the vibrations on the track.”

Sauce is another key ingredient, and some of the recipe is always secret.

Some other ingredients you can’t see, but feel.

“Grandma would always say the secret is love,” he smiles, “love for the food but also the people that eat the food.”

Gannon quit the corporate rat race to run a food truck nearly a decade ago.

Over the past few years his family kept thinking about opening a place like this, part of a neighborhood, a warm spot where his customers could always find him.

“I always tease everybody,” he smiles. “I say I want to make this neighborhood into Saucee Sicilian-ville, and make it like a ‘Little Italy’ area where people can come.”

The journey to opening his own brick and mortar store required more work and more struggle than he ever thought it would.

Salt and oil combined with sweat and toil.

They did almost all the interior work to turn a flower shop into a flour shop.

The ‘flour shop’ sign he points to, “is for Brandt’s Flower Shop that’s now next door.”

You won’t find a temperature gauge on the wood oven, or a line for propane.

“Everything,” he insists, “is the way my great-grandmother would have done it.”

Gannon grew up cooking and doing business by feel.

“A pinch of this and a handful of that.”

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After a long struggle, it all came together.

How long does it take to make a place like this?

The cook time for one of his pies might be 90 seconds, but the time it took to gather all the right ingredients in just the right spot actually took generations.

“It’s better than we could ever have imagined,” says Mendez.

The pizza is finally ready after a long wait, but ask his very first takeout customer and he’ll say, between bits, that it was worth it.

The Saucee Sicilian restaurant opened October 19, 2022.

For more information go to their Facebook page here.

Great State is sponsored by WEOKIE Credit Union