WACO, Texas (KWTX) "Best of" lists are created every year with recommendations of places to go in Central Texas, and only the people behind those places can tell us what it takes to make it to the top.
Photo By: Chelsea Edwards
We stopped by a few spots in Waco to find out the secrets that led to their success in 2017.
Dan Moroso of Moroso Wood Fired Pizzeria relocated with his family to Waco.
After spending over a decade working in broadcast media, he and his wife decided to pursue a lifelong passion of opening an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria.
Moroso admits that getting off to a great start in the restaurant industry was tough.
“It was a lot of hard work in the beginning,” he says. “In fact, there were a few moments where I actually doubted myself- whether or not I could do it.”
After being awarded "Best New Restaurant of 2017” by Wacoan Magazine and News 10’s Clean Plate Award, he says it was the local community and his hard-working staff that kept him going.
“That was sort of the impetus, the fire that helped us get this fire started here,” he says gesturing to the glittering, wood-fired stove behind him.
He says they treat their guest like extended family, and it’s paid off.
“It's been an amazing year for us. We still are counting our blessings”
Infamous Ink Tattoo on Lake Air Drive has little in common with Moroso’s but shares a common theme behind its success.
Manager and body piercist Matt Gillespie says their outreach to the community during tragedies like Hurricane Harvey is what sets them apart.
“Our owners even bought a boat and went down there to do some rescue,” he says.
“It's all about the impact that you make on others.”
The shop boasts a wall of awards, but Gillespie seems most proud of the ways the shop helps out the community through benefits for veterans and others in need.
“We like to be able to let people know that we're not the scary tattooed guys that the industry used to be- we're good people.”
Refit Fitness Studio is also making an impact on local lives.
The studio boasts millions of YouTube views and has secured a larger studio to accommodate it’s growing membership.
“It ends up being more about the friendship and about the people here than the workout itself,” says co-owner Catherine Ballas.
Those friendships helped members work together all year to achieve their fitness goals, but they’ve also pulled each other through hard times.
Ballas tells the story of a 76 year-old member who lost her husband to cancer in 2017.
“She is an incredible soul. Unfortunately, it has been a tough road for her the last couple months,” she says.
“But one of the most beautiful things that has come out of that tragic situation is seeing this fitness family rally around her.”
That member told Catherine that she felt like Refit was created to help her through her trying time.
“When a participant and a friend says something like that to you, everything is worth it,” says Ballas.
With all their achievements of 2017, these owners and managers are working toward more than additional accolades as they start the New Year.
“We want to go beyond that,” says Moroso as he describes new offerings and events that will give people a reason to come together.
“We want more lives to be impacted,” says Ballas. Her studio is offering free classes during the first week of January to help Central Texans get started on their resolutions.
“It's humbling just to know that people are appreciating us and letting us know that they support us,” says Gillespie as he finishes up with a client.
Infamous Ink will, no doubt, step up wherever they may be needed in the New Year.
As it turns out, the secret to all of their success in 2017 is reaching out to others and building a family through their local community.
And that’s a goal we can all strive to achieve in year ahead.