Legacy Golf Club in Lakewood Ranch introduces a pizzeria within its clubhouse.
Chef Danny Barbos stood next to a tool he calls "the Lamborghini of pizza ovens," a Marana, and smiled as he pulled out another perfect pizza creation.
It was what he calls "The Godfather," a combination of homemade tomato sauce, homemade beef meatballs and homemade fresh mozzarella, along with caramelized onions, parmesan cheese and basil.
The setting could have been in the midst of any busy restaurant hub, but it wasn't. As people tested this new pizza option for Lakewood Ranch, they looked out the window at the Legacy Golf Club course. It is, indeed, a serene setting, but perhaps not what you would expect from a golf course clubhouse.
Jon Whittemore, who with partner Kevin Paschall formed Legacy Golf Holdings, LLC, and own the course, are looking for ways to increase revenues after spending more than $2 million in renovations since they purchased the course in 2015.
Could pizza be one answer?
Whittemore also owns the Bridlewood Golf Course in Flower Mound, Texas, with a group called Advance Golf of Dallas. They hired Danny Barbos two years ago to open Barbos Pizza at Bridlewood Golf Club. Whittemore said the results have been impressive.
Whittemore decided to try to same strategy at Legacy Golf Club and he hired Barbos to open a pizzeria, Barbos Pizza at Legacy Golf Club. The opening is scheduled for Jan. 11.
For a few days leading up to Christmas, Barbos was treating invited guests to test the pizza, and both Whittemore and Paschall were impressed not only by the product, but the feedback from the guests.
It was great news considering they paid $35,000 for the Marana oven so important to Barbos' process. To set up the pizzeria, they paid approximately $200,000. When they finish building, they plan on a take-out window that faces the parking lot.
Besides treating golfers to another food selection, and giving tournament organizers the option to have pizza catered to their events, Whittemore said it will also increase the amount of non-golfer traffic to the course.
"It will multiply our non-golfer traffic by 10," he said.
Both Paschall and Whittemore know they needed to hire an all-star to attract a crowd, and they believe they have done so with Barbos, who owned a restaurant, Il Buongustaio, in Alba, Italy before moving to the U.S. and opening Basil Brick Oven in Astoria, Queens, N.Y. in 2012. A Queens media outlet called Barbos "the Picasso of pizza."
Barbos' passion overflowed as he prepared pizzas for guests at Legacy.
"It's a craft," Barbos said. "Some people say pizza is fast food ... It's not fast food."
He explained how proofing his dough could take as long as two days. He uses less yeast in his dough.
"If you make your dough at 9 in the morning and make pizza at 3 in the afternoon, and you eat it, your stomach is going to blow up," he said. "If you don't have the patience, it is the worst."
While Barbos will be supervising the operation, Scott Schwartz, the golf course's food and beverage manager, will handle day-to-day operations. The pizzaiolo is Gennaro Aragri.