Business Briefs: Pizza, Art and ‘Spiritual Alchemy’

Local business briefs highlights openings, closings and other business items of note in our distribution area. Got business news you’d like to share? Email

Fortunato’s Pizzeria Al Fresco

Vinny Fortunato opened his third Fortunato’s location this past November. You can find him in the kitchen as early as 8 a.m., where he makes everything – from the sauce to the dough – from scratch daily. 

Since 1976, Vinny Fortunato has opened 34 restaurants. His latest is Fortunato’s Pizzeria Al Fresco at 3038 Beach Blvd. S., formerly the home of El Chapo Taco. This is Fortunato’s third location; his other restaurants are in Seminole and South Pasadena. 

Fortunato is proud of the authenticity and integrity of his work.

“I make everything fresh, every day, bread, sauce, dressings,” explained Fortunato. “I can keep my prices a little lower because I cut the middleman out.”

Starting next week Fortunato’s will be opened six days a week from 2 to 10 p.m. Fortunato’s will offer a late lunch, early dinner and happy hour. From 2 to 5:30 p.m. a special menu will offer 12 items for $12. Your choice of entrée will come with a salad, fresh baked bread and a mini cannoli.  

Zaiya ArtiZen Market: “Choose Your Blessing”

Jill Rice founder and owner of Zaiya ArtiZen Market, holds her inspiration, Grandson Zai Azul Potillo, 2 ½. 

Tuesday, December 3, the fire marshal approved Jill Rice, founder and owner, to open the doors of Zaiya ArtiZen Market at 3119 Beach Blvd. S.

Once the home of Stella’s restaurant, the location is now home to Zaiya, a freshly renovated boutique and gallery. 

Zaiya, a combination of her grandchildren’s names, Aiyume, Zai and Aiya, “is a place where women are empowered to transform their own dreams into reality. It is an energetic space of community, support, and encouragement. It is a magical place of connection, fun and spiritual alchemy,” wrote Rice on her Facebook page.

Rice, who wrote a business plan 25 years ago for a boutique and gallery, finally made her dreams come true. 

“After five minutes of reading about Gulfport, my heart chakra opened, it took me everything I had [to keep] from skipping down the hallway at work.” Rice moved to Gulfport from Colorado in July. 

Rice will also have her very own seamstress at Zaiya who will design hemp clothing and offer a line of custom-designed dresses and decorated jeans.

“I’m so excited about what the community is bringing to me and what we, as a store, can bring to the community,” said Rice.

Debbie Wolfe Photo Gallery and Portrait Studio 

Wolfe’s grand opening and ribbon cutting is planned for Thursday, December 5 from 5:45 to 8 p.m. with music, food and raffle drawings. Photo by Eagle Finegan. 

The Gabber’s very own Debbie Wolfe has stepped out from behind her camera and is set to open her first photo gallery and portrait studio in the Village Courtyard at 2914 ½ Beach Blvd. Forty years in the making, Wolfe’s studio can be found in the southeast corner of the courtyard. 

The gallery, both the brick and mortar site and website, will offer original, signed photo art prints on paper, metal, canvas and wood at affordable prices. At the requests of her patrons, Wolfe will also have six items under $35 ranging from postcards to magnets.

Wolfe’s website will be updated often, mirroring what’s for sale at the brick and mortar location. Having taught photojournalism at the college level for 17 years, Wolfe will stay true to her background: her website will also serve as an educational blog and will feature audio podcasts and example images from professional photographers talking about their art and techniques.

“I want to give back to the community,” said Wolfe. “My website will serve two purposes – to educate and feature area professionals.”

Wolfe further explained why she wants to feature local professionals on her website. “I want to help put them on the map in a grander way than in a small gallery in Gulfport.”

Wolfe’s grand opening and ribbon cutting is planned for Thursday, December 5 from 5:45 to 8 p.m. with music, food and raffle drawings. 

More information can be found on her website at Regular business hours will be posted on Wolfe’s business Facebook page. 

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