A slice of life

Folsom resident, El Dorado Hills business owner knows his pizza
By: Art Garcia, Telegraph Correspondent
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After a short wait, Folsom resident Danny Militaru arrives at a small table at the far north end of the 118-seat Original Pete’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, the thriving eatery owned by the 27-year-old son of Romanian refugees. He opened the eatery as owner last December in El Dorado Hills Town Center. He also owns Pete’s Original Pizza in Natomas. It’s 4:30 in the afternoon when we meet, not normally the business time of day, but already customers are beginning to pack in. By 5:30, the restaurant in the El Dorado Hills Town Center is wall-to-wall with diners and a line has formed outside the front door. Militaru, gazing up and down his shop, has had a busy day, but he makes time to sit down and talk about his business, how he got into it and what is still unfinished in his young life. His mentor is Steve Presson, founder of the Original Pete’s in Sacramento’s now flourishing midtown. He hired Militaru when he was only 18, liked what he saw in the young man, and took him under his wing. Militaru said he started out washing dishes at the restaurant. In fact, he washed just about everything from the boss’ boat to the wheel rims of his car. Before long, Presson made the Ponderosa High School graduate a manager at the Sacramento store, at age 19. “I stuck out in the restaurant business because my goal was to own a store,” Militaru said. “If I couldn’t run my own store, I didn’t want to be in the business. I wanted to be a star.” He said his staff is familiar with his can-do attitude. “I hate the word ‘can’t’,” he said. “If you see hurdles in life, you have to jump over them, no matter what. I’ve very spontaneous.” Militaru recently purchased a Harley Davidson motorcycle, to his mom’s regret, and last week joined Presson and potential Pete’s franchisees for this first fly-fishing experience. “The best memories in my life are what just happened,” he said. He said he spends little time thinking about what’s going to happen next. “If it feels right, just do it. Everybody says I’m very intense. I’m not really a planner,” he said. That makes no difference to Pat Meucci, of El Dorado Hills. She and her retired physician husband Jim and fans of Pete’s after just one meal. “It was excellent and the service was very good,” she said. “The pizza wasn’t overwhelmed by the crust. A lot are, with too much crust and not enough ‘stuff’ on the pizza.” Joelle Shelton, a cashier and hostess who’s been with the restaurant since it opened, credits her boss with “having drive.” “We all appreciate that you have to have the determination to keep the business going,” she said. “He definitely has that. He keeps the bar high and it’s a good way to keep the business strong because we all have to meet that.” Restaurant manager Drea Militaru, the owner’s sister-in-law, said despite his young age, he has a lot of experience. “He’s been in the business almost 10 years,” she said. “He definitely knows how to run a restaurant.”