William Baird and Tim Chaffin have been best friends since kindergarten and grew up together. Sharing a love of food and similar interests, they decided to go into business together.
“We've known each other for 35 years and we know each other's limits,” says Chaffin. “It's like a brother thing. I can tell when he's getting frustrated or tired, or he can tell when I am, and that's when we just kind of push each other out of the way, take charge and help each other out.”
Baird worked at a couple pizza places while he was in college, but Chaffin says he worked in the trucking industry.
Vin Trofeo's kitchen worker Jason Stevens makes an order of baked nachos.
“It's always been like a hobby of mine to go out and try new restaurants and foods,” says Chaffin. “So when I had an opportunity, I thought, ‘Why not get a little more involved?’”
Baird says Chaffin contacted him about an idea he had for a business and asked for his help to get it going.
“The two of us worked together to create the product from scratch,” says Baird. “We spent so much time in the kitchen experimenting over and over, try and taste, blind taste, with dough, with sauce, with cheese, with everything to try to make it as unique as flavorful as possible. And eventually we came up with a product that we were extremely proud of.”
Vin Trofeo's pizza dough is make from scratch in-house, without any sugar.
"Sugar is a major source for most dough that's made out there because yeast feeds on sugar which helps the proofing process," says Baird. "But sugar also adds a different flavor to dough and that can be a deterrent for some people that have to avoid sugar."
The pair from Vestaburg, Michigan, opened up a pizzeria in Edmore, but decided to close and change location.
“We took our recipes and everything that we had created, brought them here, and really just kind of fell into a great spot,” says Baird. “We have a great place, and the community here is amazing.”
Baird and Chaffin opened Vin Trofeo’s Pizzeria & Pub located at 120 S. University Ave. Mt. Pleasant on Sept. 13, 2019.
Vin Trofeo's menu offers something for everyone ranging from pizza, chicken wings, zoodles, and even soup and salads.
“Our pizza is not just the everyday pizza,” says Baird. “When we first announced that we were going to be coming to town, we got so much flak…there were two other pizza places that announced at the same time, and I think it was a bit overwhelming for the whole town, ‘Oh my gosh, not three more pizza joints seriously.’”
They decided to name the pizzeria and pub something different to fit the new location. Baird and Chaffin drew inspiration from Italian words vincitore, which translates to winners, and trofeo which means trophy.
“We wanted to have a product as a close to authentic as we can, but not too authentic where it's not Americanized because you want to give something that people are still familiar with,” says Chaffin. “We wanted to have a little bit of an Italian flair to it, and Vin Trofeo’s we felt represented what we wanted to create.”
The pizzeria and pub offers a full bar and over 20 beers on draft and a unique menu with exciting seasonal flavors such as gingerbread breadsticks or a green bean casserole pizza.
Vin Trofeo's has over 20 beers on tap and also offers growlers.
“Some people try to get that wow factor from massive quantities of food and that draws huge crowds of people from all over the state, but for us it's not about the portions it was just about being different.. like having a pickle pizza,” says Baird.
Mt. Pleasant resident Karen Gostomski says that her go-to order is the pickle pizza, along with the breadsticks with a side of the homemade ranch, and either a Moscow Mule or the Mermaid Water if she wants a drink.
“The first time we went I tried the dill pickle pizza,” says Gostomski.” “I love dill pickles and it was just like heaven to me. I said, ‘I'm going to keep coming back.’”
A Vin Trofeo's kitchen worker shapes the freshly-made pizza dough. Being able to make your own dough can be a really great thing," says Baird. "Dough can get very expensive when you buy it, and can be very cost effective when you make it. But then you have to factor in your time and labor. We never claimed to have the cheapest pizza in town because we don't want to be cheap pizza."
Gostomski says that she loves how they are always experimenting and trying fun, new flavors, but also appreciates their wonderful customer service.
“All the food is delicious, it's so authentic and it's made with a lot of heart,” says Gostomski. “They really care and want people to love their food. And they pay attention, like if you say you thought that there was too much sauce or I thought this was this, they're like okay we'll take that into consideration. They don't just say, ‘Oh well, you're wrong.’”
Vin Trofeo's kitchen worker Jess Acker puts away the pizza dough to allow it to proof.
Baird says they worked hard to create a high-quality, cleaner product, and no sugar is used to make the dough.
“He and I have always been perfectionists, we do things right. So when we got into food, we couldn't just take frozen dough or the prepackaged sauce, we had to make our own,” says Chaffin. “So the process, you’ve got to be patient to perfect it, but 100 pounds of flour out the door can be frustrating, you know?”
Baird says having both grown up in the country, Mt. Pleasant felt like it was the place to be.
Vin Trofeo's breadsticks are made from scratch then brushed with garlic butter and sprinkled with parmesan cheese.
“Whenever you wanted anything done, or go to any events, you always had to go to Mt. Pleasant,” says Baird. “We knew that it was a growing town and just had a lot of opportunity. Even though there was a large pizza industry already here, we felt that we had a premium product that was different than what was already established. So we wanted to bring our flavor to town.”
To see Vin Trofeo’s menu, draft list, or hours of operation, vintrofeos.com.