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Lost in Camp Fire, Mamma Celeste’s Gastropub & Pizzeria gets new life in Sparks

Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 10:12 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Jim Flanagan had it all planned out.

“My life was going to be in Paradise forever,” said the longtime restaurant owner. “My business that I’d just opened was extremely successful, though it had an incredibly short run of four months.”

After a successful stint running Mamma Celeste’s Pizzeria in Chico, Calif., Flanagan relocated his business to Paradise, Calif., spending nearly a year renovating an old building across from City Hall. But just four months after opening - a time in which Flanagan had never enjoyed more success - Mamma Celeste’s was one of the over 18,800 buildings destroyed in the Camp Fire, the most devastating wildfire in California’s history.

“The hardest thing I’ve ever had to experience in my life,” Flanagan remembers. “It was unbelievable to be part of something that was so life-altering for so many people.”

Set on reopening, but unsure where, Flanagan landed in Sparks. After nearly 18-months in town, he’s set to open Mamma Celeste’s Gastropub & Pizzeria at 360 Los Altos Parkway by the end of the summer.

“Getting a fresh start in life,” Flanagan says. “That’s what this feels like, a fresh start in life.”

Six of Flanagan’s longtime loyal staff members have joined him in moving to Northern Nevada, keeping their successful foundation intact for its new home.

And the food’s staying the same, too.

“My pizza sauce is a 60-year-old recipe from my uncle’s pizza shop in the city of Chicago. He gave it to me prior to his death.” said Flanagan, who adds they’ll also offer eclectic appetizers, sandwiches, salads and burgers.

“After he gave me that and the dough recipe he said the rest is up to you.”

Mamma Celeste’s was lost during a devastating wildfire and will resurrect during a devastating pandemic. The battle-tested Flanagan sees his business, and the community, rebounding in a big way.

“I can say I came out better for it from the Camp Fire,” said Flanagan. “I think as a whole, everyone will come out better for it from COVID.”

“We’ve got a great team of people who love to give service and make great food. We’re excited to bring that to Sparks.”

To keep up with Mamma Celeste’s, check out their Facebook page.

Copyright 2020 KOLO. All rights reserved.

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