Miguel Angel Berrios, owner of Giovanni’s Pizza and Pasta located at 220 Moody Boulevard in Flagler Beach, is our August 2023 Positive Person of the Month. Miguel was nominated by several community members for the positive and uplifting lifestyle that he lives out on a daily basis. His motto is, “We feed your heart, not just your mouth.”

He, along with his wife Nancy and children Samantha, Briana, Miguel and James, moved to Palm Coast in 2008 from Long Island, New York. After a five year move back to Long Island, they have since resided in Palm Coast.

When asked how he and his family became the owners of Giovanni’s Pizza and Pasta, Miguel told us, “We are from New York and would visit Flagler Beach. Every Saturday morning, we would go to the Farmer’s Market and the kids would pick their favorite fruits. After that, they’d go to the beach. Then they would come and have pizza here at this restaurant. My little guy, my little son, he would fall asleep at these tables. Like, he would be so tired. He would be eating pizza, and he’d be falling asleep. So when we went back to New York and every time we came back, the first place they always said we had to go to was Giovanni’s. For some reason, this was like their spot for years. We would jokingly ask the owner when he was going to sell the place and he would always say that he was not ready. And then finally one day when we came back here, we jokingly asked if he was ready to sell yet, he said yes and that was it.”

Miguel graduated from Penn state in 1998 with a Culinary Arts degree in Hospitality/Restaurant Management. “I worked while my uncle took me under his wings, teaching me how to cook from scratch while working at Caruso, a high end restaurant. After that, I managed a high end Italian restaurant, front and back of house. I now have over 22 years of restaurant experience,” he tells us.

“My specialty came from working in Manhattan and Long Island, NY. Back when I worked at my first restaurant in New York, my uncle was a top chef. I would wash dishes right after school. After high school, I wanted to learn computer programming because I like computers. I still do. So my uncle said to me, ‘Learn this because you are great at it. Learn it.’  So I would study while I was washing dishes on my break. I was off on Tuesdays and he asked, ‘You want to come in and help me out?’ He taught me a lot. He took me under his wing,” Miguel says.

We asked Miguel and Nancy if they had advice for anyone who wanted to start their own business. Both agreed that you have to have the passion, drive and dedication to devote to your business. Nancy says, “He’s been in the restaurant business forever. I haven’t been in the restaurant business. I was a hairdresser. So I see the difference when he does his thing and when I do my thing. But I’m here to help and I’m here to assist, and I’m here to do whatever I can. But when he puts his food together and the way does it, it’s like you can see the difference. You can see the passion. But also, what he should tell people, or I would tell people, always find balance. You have to have the passion for it, and people will see that. And then if you take the time to rest, they’re going to want to come back to you, because they see how hard you’re working, and they know that you need a break. So always find balance. Don’t just work because you’ll burn yourself out.”

Miguel adds, “You have to love people. Not just like people. Everyone that comes in here, I sit with them when I have time. But I always find the time to come in and run over here and give you a hug and hello. So that’s what it’s all about. Build them up. Everyone needs that little push in a good way. You know what I mean?”

Customer Ron Wilkison declares, “I don’t know what is better, your food or just you. This place has always been a class act in my book. Keep it up! My vote for most consistent food in Flagler County! Thank you!” In response to Ron’s statement, Miguel replies, “It really comes down to our every morning choice. If it’s not within us, where is it? I pray my hardest that my grain of salt goes a long way.”

Miguel’s wife Nancy adds, “I think his positivity comes from the fact that he come from nothing, worked his way up and made himself what he is today. It’s almost like, how could you not be positive? Because you look around, you see people that have everything given to them and they’re miserable. And it’s like, if someone could go through what he went through and become somebody, why can’t everybody?”

Miguel admits, “My kids didn’t believe the things I went through. We had no electricity. We had to get up at 4:30 in the morning and carry our own water so we could shower.”

Sadly, Miguel and Nancy’s oldest daughter Samantha passed away in a tragic car accident on November 5, 2022 at the age of 20 in Laguna Niguel, California. She was an active-duty member of the United States Marines Corps. Both Miguel and Nancy spoke of the struggles they face every day since the loss of their daughter. They believe that Samantha would not want them to give up on their dreams of running their business and that she would want them to keep going. 

We touched on the fact that even after suffering the terrible loss, Miguel continues to remain positive in spite of the adversity he has faced. He is always giving to others in their time of need. When the owners of Romero’s Tuscany by the Sea lost their son Christian to a tragic car accident, Miguel (in addition to other local restaurants) rallied to raise funds for the family and staff while they closed their restaurant down to mourn their loss.

When Cupcake Cafe owner Theresa Tazewell learned that she had to be out of work for several weeks due to having her pacemaker replaced, Miguel held a fundraiser to raise money for Theresa and her staff while they were closed. Theresa was very supportive and thankful to Miguel for holding the fundraiser. “He is a wonderful person with a heart of gold. He continues to go above and beyond for our community. It’s no wonder he won person of the month! We are so proud of him!” she exclaimed.

The above are just a few of the many local businesses that Miguel and his family have helped. “We have always been givers. I do things from within, not expecting in return. I never do. It’s how I find my joy, now even more. I try to just honor my daughter in everything I do. I believe that we are humans and we all need something, whether it’s a ‘Hello’ or a smile,” Miguel explains. “We all go through different stages, different things, different feelings every single day. So my thinking is if you get up every single day, it’s a gift. And that’s why it’s called the present. That alone puts me in a different perspective in my head. And I say to myself, ‘How can I make us better?’ And I’m talking about me, my family, my community,” he adds.

Miguel also spoke of the recent ‘Pack the Patrol Car’ school supply drive sponsored by FCSO, Home Depot and Heroes First Home Loans at Ralph Carter Park. He was working at the restaurant the day the drive was held, so he asked his wife to buy supplies to donate to the drive. He recalls, “ I said, ‘Get notebooks, pencils, book bags.’ I went through the list with her. ‘Just fill it up and just bring it to them.’ So it’s the little things. If you can make a difference, you can make an impact, that’s all.”

We also talked about how the local community supports one other. “We support each other. The Romeros, we go back and forth. The Anchor, they come here all the time. Kevin, the owner, texts me all the time. He texted me yesterday to ask what was going on and how I was doing. If they need something I have, I give it. If they have something I need, they give it. So we go back and forth. We are all in the same boat,” Miguel explains. “That’s what it’s all about. I said it to you before, it’s about building each other up. How can I make that difference? A teeny, teeny, teeny, tiny positive action is still going to be huge and greater than the negative. I try to instill that in my kids and just be that difference. It doesn’t matter what they do to you.”

Miguel and his family would like to thank the community for their continued support of Giovanni’s Pizza and Pasta. If you haven’t yet visited their restaurant, you can find them at 220 Moody Boulevard in Flagler Beach. If you have been, let us know your favorite thing about the restaurant in the comments below.