BRODHEADSVILLE, Pa. – A woman who turned her love for cooking into a popular food truck business says she’ll soon open a brick-and-mortar restaurant featuring her most popular dishes.
Margaret LaFiura said she plans to open Sauce restaurant in a former Rita’s Italian Ice at 109 Marshal Lane, just off Route 209 across from the Tractor Supply store.
For the past eight years, LaFiura has operated LaFiura’s Rice Around the World food truck, which offered a broad variety of rice bowls as well as burgers, tacos and empanadas.
It has been popular in Monroe County at street fairs, wineries, breweries and events at Shawnee ski area and downtown Stroudsburg.
But “I think we got a little tired – my kid’s getting older, and we got a little tired of breaking down and setting up,” Lafiura said.
“And it’s always been a dream of mine to have a restaurant – I mean, just to be settled in a restaurant and serving a community is my dream come true. So we found a great spot, and we pushed forward.”
After about four months of planning and work, the stationary restaurant last week got permits needed to open, LaFiura said. Most of the renovations are done – plumbing work remains, she said – and “I’m hoping, by the grace of God, to be open in three weeks.”
Sauce will feature her signature paella – flavored rice cooked with meats, seafood and vegetables – as well as other rice dishes and traditional Italian fare.
And, as the name indicates, sauces.
LaFiura said she expects one of the signature dishes to be a “flight,” or collection, of sauces – much as people now order flights of beer or wine.
“Rice bowls seem to be very popular,” she said. “I make them for holidays, I give them out.
“But the sauces that go along with them, like the lemon garlic sauce, the pesto sauce and the chipotle sauces, people love to dip; people love sauces. So I said, ‘Let’s do a bunch of dipping foods that we can offer people to sit around with their families, bring your own wine, bring your own beer, sit down and be comfortable, order some dipping appetizers and a bunch of sauces.
“So I said, ‘Let’s do a flight of sauce – why not?’ So we are starting on offering a flight of sauces with a bucket of hand-cut fries, onion rings with our arancini.”
The restaurant also will serve Pizza Fritta (fried pizza), flatbreads, and lunch burgers, sandwiches and salads. And even breakfasts on weekends.
She said she found the former Rita’s site “by chance – by passing by because it’s in our community, and I saw a ‘for lease’ sign on it and it just felt right to us and we took advantage of it.” She will lease the site.
LaFiura is originally from New York, where she had a catering business called Romantic Occasions.
When the family moved to Pennsylvania, she said, they and a bunch of friends started a dinner club, with families each month doing “these really big events, themed.”
“And we chose Spain one year,” she said. “And we decided to make paella the very traditional way. So we imported some pans from Spain – big, 3-foot-diameter ones – and we had this wonderful paella party on an open fire. It was just an amazing experience.
“So we hung the pan up in the garage, and we keep passing it, and I’m, like, ‘There’s got to be some way I could capitalize on this pan.’ So I said, ‘Let’s give it a shot. Let’s go to a winery. Let’s see if people really want this stuff.’ ”
She said patrons at the winery loved the paella. “People were lining up,” she said. “So we got excited and we started a food truck called Rice Around the World.”
LaFiura said she chose the name Sauces because, “We make a lot of sauces. I specialize in my sauces. People ask me for my sauces all the time.
“I’ve been cooking for our church for the past 13 years. I cook for all the big events and I cook for 50, 150 people at a time. And I make sauces.
“I think sometimes to make a good food great, sometimes it takes a great sauce. So I decided that I was going to specialize in all these sauces and, sure enough, people love them. And so I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to name it Sauce.’”
Sauce is expected to be open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.