A year ago, Mary Anne Perrone decided that she wanted to relocate from Florida to Waynesville and open up her own restaurant.

Her reasons came down to one thing: family.

“This is what I know,” Perrone said, adding that she is the sister of Louis Perrone, owner of Frankie’s Italian Trattoria in Maggie Valley and daughter of Frank Perrone, for whom the restaurant was named.

“Growing up as a kid, I was always in a restaurant. It’s what I know,” she said.

The Perrone family has a history of owning and operating several classic Italian restaurants, including several in South Florida.

Just like Frankie’s in Maggie Valley, Amici’s will serve the same classic Italian ‘comfort food,’ including homemade lasagna, manicotti marinara, baked penne, veal parmigiana and Marsala and a variety of pizzas.

“Amici’s is the same concept and the same foods,” Perrone said. “I learned it all from my dad. I think just like him.”

After working in the family-owned restaurants in Florida, Mary Anne Perrone decided it was time to take a leap of faith and open a restaurant in Waynesville where her family lived.

“Amici’s means friend,” Perrone said. “I named it for this town. When you’re here, you’re friends and family and it all comes together.”

Aaron Hawkins, who was also the head chef at Frankie’s years ago, is now the head chef of Amici’s. His hiring was no coincidence.

“He knows all the basics,” Perrone said. “We just cook from the heart like dad does.”

Since opening on Nov. 19, Perrone said business has ebbed and flowed as word spread about the opening.

“We’ve had busy and slow days,” she said. “But it gives us the opportunity to learn from our customers.”

And listening to the customers is the main philosophy of all the Perrone-owned restaurants.

“The customers always come first,” she said. “I will go out of my way to make someone happy. We want it to be a home away from home.”

In fact, even if an item is not listed on the Amici’s menu, Perrone said the kitchen would still accept requests.

“99.9% of the time if we have it, we will make it for you,” she said. “I do it because I love it. It’s my happy place.”

Amici’s is located at 456 Hazelwood Ave. in Waynesville. It is open Tuesday through Saturdays from 4-9 p.m. and is closed on Sunday and Monday.

The restaurant’s website is still in the works, but the menu and specials are posted daily to the Amici’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/amicisrestaurant.

Patrons can also make reservations on Facebook.

“This is not a ‘put-the-food-on-the-table and leave kind of place,” Perrone said. “When you’re here you feel like you’re home.”

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