CT fashion designer helping fire-ravaged Cheshire pizzeria

COVID has affected many businesses financially, and Milford resident Mike Loudon uses his social media platform — and love for fashion — to help shine light on those struggling.

“Working in the beverage industry for 12 years has helped me connect with a lot of businesses around the state. I thought, ‘Well a lot of businesses are struggling to stay open so why not start posting videos on my favorite spots, discover new places and spread awareness?’” said Loudon.

Loudon started off as a brand ambassador with MillerCoors (now MolsonCoors), then worked for Bacardi USA and is currently working as a sales manager with Heineken. Visiting local sites inspired him to create “Twenty Deuce TV,” a social media channel, where he posts video reviews of local restaurants and bars.

He was planning on reviewing Fuoco Coal Fired Apizza, which opened in Cheshire in 2020, when a fire broke out at the restaurant in late December. The blaze caused “structural damage” and “significant smoke and water damage,” said fire Chief Jack Casner, and it was forced to temporarily close.

Firefighters respond to a blaze at Fuoco Apizza in Cheshire, Conn. Dec. 28, 2021

Firefighters respond to a blaze at Fuoco Apizza in Cheshire, Conn. Dec. 28, 2021

Cheshire Volunteer Fire Department / Contributed photo

The pizzeria created a gofundme page to help pay for repairs, but Loudon said he felt as if his platform would help raise and create more awareness. “I have never been there but I wanted to do a fundraiser on my own to help them re-open,” Loudon said.

Loudon made it a mission to help Fuoco by using his clothing brand “Twenty Deuce Clothing Co.” In February, he is set to release T-shirts with a Keith Haring-inspired 80’s design that will signify unity within the pizza community in Connecticut. The tee will feature two figures holding up a heart shaped pizza inspired by New Haven apizza. Proceeds from the shirt sales will be donated to Fuoco (the restaurant was not immediately available for comment).

“This is not my first time making shirts for a cause,” he said. Back in 2020, Loudon created a black tee with names of some of the pizzerias Connecticut is known for (Bar, Colony Grill, Modern, Pepe’s, Sally’s and Zuppardi’s) and donated all the money raised to the Connecticut Food Bank. The shirts sold so well that he re-release them a second time; he raised around $3,000 in total with those shirts.

Loudon said a lot of his inspiration for these fundraiser pieces comes from 90s and 2000s streetwear and art. Celebrities like Connecticut rapper Chris Webby, WWE superstars Becky Lynch, Finn Bálor and Dakota Kai and former Yankee and current Met’s second baseman Robinson Canó have all donned “Twenty Deuce Clothing Co.”

Every October, the clothing brand also raises money for Breast Cancer Awareness month selling its “Boobie Bear” hoodie and tee. The design is inspired by Ralph Lauren’s polo bear, said Loudon, and it “models” different collections of his brand. 

“A lot of my family members have had breast cancer. I do this every year in honor of them,” Loudon said, adding that he has donated to Susan G. Coleman and the Smilow Cancer Hospital wing at Yale New Haven Hospital.

Twenty Deuce Clothing Co.'s "Boobie Bear" designed by Connecticut graphic designer Duane Planes

Twenty Deuce Clothing Co.’s “Boobie Bear” designed by Connecticut graphic designer Duane Planes

Contributed by Duane Planes

This summer, he plans to launch “Twenty Deuce Foundation” to support youth athletics in Connecticut.

“As a child of a single parent and watching [my mom] work hard to support my love for sports, I wanted to create a scholarship fund to support kids follow their dreams,” he said.