Slices of scripture

Family-owned pizza joint open about Christian faith

LONGMONT — When they opened Luc’s Pizza in Longmont eight years ago, Jim and Marie Lucarelli hoped to serve plenty of pizza. They also wanted to serve the community and God.

The walls and menus at Luc’s serve as a constant reminder of that. A plaque near some old family photos, to the side of the cash register, bears Luc’s Pizza’s unofficial motto, from 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” The front of their menu carries the same scripture quote, and each section leads with scripture and the ichthys symbol — Lunch, Matthew 4:4; Pizzas, John 7:37.

The Lucarellis agree that the ubiquitous scripture, which even graces their company van, keeps them accountable to God and the life-long process of learning and being a Christian.

“We view it as a ministry,” Marie Lucarelli said.

Sometimes the scripture will lead a customer to start a conversation about faith, but Marie said that as a business, they never bring it up first or proselytize to customers or employees. She also doesn’t think Luc’s success is a result of being Christian.

“I think our customers like our pizza, and that’s why they come back,” she said. “I don’t think God is like a good luck charm I can pull out of my pocket, rub and be successful.”

The idea for the pizzeria started when the couple noticed the unoccupied store front at Hover and 17th Streets in Longmont that would become Luc’s.

“So we’re having breakfast, and start making notes on a napkin, ‘What about a mom-and-pop pizza place?'” Jim Lucarelli said.

At the time, finances were already tight. The family had been living on Jim’s teaching salary alone for a few years so Marie, who also had been a teacher in the St. Vrain School District, could stay home to care for their four children. But they worked together well for church and school projects, and they enjoyed making pizzas from scratch with family recipes and an old church cookbook. The kids were getting older, and a family business seemed like a good idea.

“I wanted to be able to contribute something to my family, the community, society in general more than just…” Jim said, pausing to find the right word.

“Getting a paycheck,” Marie offered.

Jim nodded. “Or achieving some of those ideologies in what the world might perceive success is,” he said.

The children also encouraged them to open Luc’s, and the oldest three, who were in junior high and high school at the time, helped open and run the pizzeria. Rachael, the youngest, made dolls out of paper plates and coffee filters from a blanket near the phone. Now 13, she trains high schoolers who work at Luc’s.

Luc’s could not have opened without the right help at the right time, say the Lucarellis. Their church family from Rocky Mountain Christian Church blessed their opening — “I think they kept us in business for our first month and a half, honestly,” Jim said — and a random act of kindness from a stranger saved them trouble over the enormous hood for their ovens.

Long before they opened, a health inspector stopped by to see if they needed anything. The Lucarellis didn’t yet know much about health codes or regulations for the hood, but the stranger gladly helped them out. They weren’t expecting him, they hadn’t called or submitted paperwork, and they’re still not sure why he dropped in that day.

“To me, that was a God thing,” Marie said. “We needed him, and somebody knew that.”

When the Lucarellis had to figure out how to make many pizza crusts at once, their friends Mark and Dorothy D’Agostino, who run D’Agostino Mugg-n-Pye in Frederick, let them use their mixer.

Dorothy D’Agostino said they used to try to discourage Jim from getting into the restaurant business.

“We knew it was hard, but also because we knew him and his personality, we knew he would be successful,” she said.

Now, Jim encourages them to close Mugg-n-Pye on Sundays — like Luc’s — so they’ll have more family time, but that’s not easy, she said.

Later, Jimmy Welzig, a friend from church who runs a heating and cooling service, — and who also bears witness to his faith with the ichthys symbol on his fleet of vans — quickly took care of a broken compressor for their refrigerator just days before they opened.

Welzig said the Lucarellis demonstrate their faith in many ways.

“You wear it on your sleeve,” he said. “That’s what we’re called to do.”

“I truly believe it’s about people recognizing sincerity and who you are,” Jim said. “It’s about how you treat people, and how you’re supposed to treat people.”

Marie agrees. “Our pastor likes to say, the good you do will come back to you,” she said.

At a recent gathering of other local Christian business owners — a word-of-mouth gathering Jim learned about when he made a delivery to another business and suggested saying grace — Jim and others discussed the more than 700 references to the heart and love in the Bible. You can do a lot of outwardly kind things, but it’s about where your heart is, he said.

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