Gus Fricano

Gus Fricano
Gus Fricano, the founder of Fricano's Pizza Tavern, pictured in the 1950's with a thin crust pizza dough maker.

An Uncooked Frozen Pizza From The 1950's

Frozen Pizzas were once sold!

Grand Haven Tribune Article 1960's

Fricano's pizza in Grand Haven Tribune, 1960's?

Grand Haven Tribune Article Jan. 20, 1966

Gus and Tom Fricano at their pizza oven, Jan. 20, 1966 (Grand Haven Tribune Article)
Gus and Tom Fricano at their pizza oven

Grand Haven Tribune Article Nov. 29, 1962

Gus Fricano serving pizza pies to more than 40 members of the grand Haven High School Varsity team. Nov. 29, 1962 (Grand Haven tribune)
Gus Fricano serving pizza pies to more than 40 members of the Grand Haven High School Varsity team at Fricano's Pizza Hut. The restaurant was open for the length of his 10 year lease from 1954-1964 at the corner of Washington and Ferry Street. The Fricano's Pizza Tavern was enjoying amazing success and that included alot of young people mixed in an environment which included alcohol. So, city fathers had suggested that Gus provide a second location for the kids serving only pop. It was also a success and saw many kids, families after football games, etc. It had booths, a jukebox, and alot of football players.

Muskegon Chronicle, May 21, 1983 Article

The Muskegon Chronicle May 21, 1983. article "Pizza Everywhere", by Jim Frisinge in the Eat/Drink Guide
"Pizza Everywhere", by Jim Frisinge in the Eat/Drink Guide


On August 21, 1949 Gus Fricano bought the Ottawa Tavern and soon renamed it Fricano's Tavern and from there, launched one of the most famous little success stories West Michigan has ever known.

The Fricano Faithful

The record night at Fricano's was July 3, 1994 when that little old boarding house turned tavern pumped out 1200 pizzas in one night. It’s normal to average 750-850 pizzas on any given night between Memorial Day to Labor Day. But this is not just a summer phenomenon. People craving this pizza delicacy line up at the door at Fricano's just about every weekend of the year, regardless of weather conditions. Freezing temperatures or rain does not prevent the Fricano faithful from standing at the doors at both ends of this 150+ year-old building waiting for the next available table to clear so that they may be the next group to be seated. Can it really be all worth it? Ask anyone who has ever indulged into one of these legendary thin crust beauties and the answer will be filled with nothing but the highest praise and adoration, they are that good.

Bob Talbert's Detroit section of the Detroit Free Press in the mid-1960's

Excerpts from the Bob Talbert's Detroit section of the Detroit Free Press in the mid-1960's.  This is what the young Bob Talbert had to say in one of his articles about his quest for the perfect pizza . . . . .

Somewhere In Its Infinite Variety There Must Be a Perfect Pizza

    "I have spent well over three years looking for the best pizza in Michigan. I hate to tell you about the heartburns I've had and the weight I've gained. I have discovered some fascinating things about pizzas. Everyone I meet has a "favorite" place.  No two pizzas taste alike. There's no such animal as the "best pizza," but there are some that are truly sensational.
    I've sampled pizzas in some of the most out-of -the-way places and have heard from fans of many parlors. Places like Gus Fricano's in Grand Haven . . . . . Gus Fricano's place in Grand Haven, the first spot I mentioned, also has a vast loyal following. One fellow who started his own search for the perfect pizza in 1948 picks Fricano's®, which serves only pizza and some 2,000 of them a week in a community of only 10,000.  Not bad."


An article from The Grand Haven Tribune, A Little Bit More section . . . . .

St. Fricano's
   I thought perhaps your faithful readers might enjoy a bit of humor to break up all the tragedy we must endure. This little essay is not meant to be sacrilegious. It is merely a salute of recognition of an establishment that has been a hallmark of distinction in our beloved Grand Haven.
    I'm a retired advertising writer from St. Louis who having vacationed here several years in a row decided Grand Haven is the place to be. My only criticism is that we need to look at ourselves more with a sense of humor.
    There's a restaurant in Grand Haven that is irrefutably unique by the standards of worldly dining establishments. It's been here for decades and no one has ever considered it to be a cult.  Is it a cult or a religious conviction?  What is the answer to the unusual and supernatural magnetic power that lies behind the walls of this extraordinary eatery?  Members of the congregation assemble daily to attend the services. Irrespective of weather conditions, they stand in line outside its dreary unpainted gray walls, men, women, children, waiting to enter this hallowed hall. They come from all walks of life, the walks now are covered with ice and snow. Inside St. Fricano's parishioners sit at tables covered with ordinary red and white checkered tablecloths praying for the server to provide them tasty morsels of a cuisine that's uncontested by the competition.  I found myself a helpless joiner of this mass attraction. I do not intend to be sacrilegious but I found myself genuflecting before sitting at the bar. In the open sacristy several elders prepare the feast sliding delectable discs of appetizing pizzas smartly into super-heated ovens causing a delightful oregano flavored aroma. I open my jacket in hopes the fragrance will stay with me. There is no menu although years ago they listed a variety of savorful toppings on a paper place-mat. They ran out and never replaced them.  As my eyes scan the faces amongst the flock in attendance, there is an air of complete bliss and contentedness. Each piece of pizza placed before them brings unto them a feeling of TOTAL PEACE.  Paper plates are used in lieu of noisy dishes that would disturb the peace. And when the server approaches each table with basket (cash only, no credit cards or personal checks) the tithes are given with a marked absence of fuss.
    I asked the bartender Douglas, a third generation Fricanoain, why there is no drive-in facility for take-home members of the congregation? His reply told me that St. Fricano's was a family oriented commisionary and everyone will benefit by coming inside to a world of good fellowship, friends and neighbors, sip a libation and feel the omnipotent spirit of mozzarella. I guess it's an old Italian custom.
    What a blessing, my take-out order arrived. I again genuflected and left carrying my package of goodness. A yellow beam of light hovered over the box of pizza and I thought it was a superficial halo christening the contents. Later I found out I left my pen light on.
    Is St. Fricano's a cult or a commune or an unexplained metaphysical miracle? My answer to this is from the lesson I was taught..."BLESSED ARE THE CONSUMERS OF ST. FRICANO'S...BECAUSE THEY SHALL INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF HEARTBURN!".

Harry Honig
Spring Lake

On August 1st, 2013 Maranda from WOOD TV8, WOTV 4 did a story about our history called "The best pizza in West Michigan", click here to watch it.

In June of 2014 there was the Grand River Times Story Hoax:

To all the thousands of Fricano's Pizza faithful fans, we are flattered to be a part of such a marvelous and overdue hoax such as this one. Stories like this are extremely entertaining and certainly good for everyone's enjoyment and enthusiasm. Clover Bar is a true compliment to the pizza industry in West Michigan. And to look at that picture and to see their name on the greatest pizza institution on the face of the Earth puts a smile on every Fricano members faces that has seen it to this point. Grand River Times should be commended for their creativity and their thought and Fricano's Pizza considers it an honor to be thought of so highly to be featured in probably one of their most popular stories to date. This article is completely false as most of their articles are but it has raised an overwhelming amount of interest that the Fricano family embraces and is thankful for. Fricano's Pizza Grand Haven brought pizza to West Michigan 65 years ago and their ownership and empire in West Michigan is safe and secure and will never ever be shared with anyone but the Fricano Family. As always your loyalty and patronage is what has made Fricano's the icon and the crown jewel of pizza parlor over five generations and for that we are deeply and sincerely grateful. VIVA FRICANO'S PIZZA. Fricano's for life.

For much more History about Fricano's Pizza Tavern please visit our main family pizza website at

The First Pizza Pies in Michigan

"Gus, what the hell is that smell," was a common remark when the ovens fired up for the first few pizzas Gus ever baked. "Just try it and tell me what you think," he’d politely ask his patrons. NO ONE knew what pizza was back then. People didn’t even know how to say it; they had to spell it out to Gus so he knew what they were talking about. Gus said he gave more pizzas away the first year than he sold because nobody knew what it was they were buying. But that all started to change as word spread about this new thing called pizza served over at the Fricano's Tavern.

Tom Fricano

Tom Fricano
Brother Joe (who originally joined up with Gus) decided he wasn’t interested in being Gus’ partner anymore, so Gus asked Tom if he’d like to join up and Tom agreed.

1953 Fricano's Pizza Tavern Photos

1953 Fricano's Pizza Tavern Photos

1953 Fricano's Pizza Tavern Photos

1953 Fricano's Pizza Tavern Photos

1953 Fricano's Pizza Tavern Photos

1953 Fricano's Pizza Tavern Photos

1953 Fricano's Pizza Tavern Photos

1953 Fricano's Pizza Tavern Photos

1953 Fricano's Pizza Tavern Photos