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Staci, Dan and Kim were determined to bring a slice of their home city of Chicago to the South when they moved to Nashville, and for them that meant opening a restaurant serving authentic Windy City-style deep-dish pizza. Although the trio was clear in its hopes for a family-friendly pizzeria, help was needed from Buy This Restaurant and famed broker Keith Simpson to find the ultimate location for the business. After scouring the city of Nashville and beyond, they purchased a vacant space in Germantown, Tenn., which would ultimately become 312 Pizza Company.
FN Dish checked in with Staci, Dan and Kim shortly after filming wrapped to find out how construction of their restaurant is progressing today. Read on below to hear from the owners in an exclusive interview and get the latest update on 312 Pizza Company.
How is the construction going on 312 Pizza Company? In what stage is the renovation, and when do you plan to open?
Staci, Dan and Kim: We are hoping to open mid- to late March 2014.
What was the most-influential factor in you choosing the unoccupied space over the turn-key and expansive restaurants?
Staci, Dan and Kim: We really liked the idea of being able to make the space unique to us. We were able to design the look from top to bottom. All paint colors, decor and finishes are exactly to our specifications.
What have been your greatest expenditures of the renovation so far, and have you stuck to your $250,000 budget so far?
Staci, Dan and Kim: Buying all of the equipment has been the greatest expenditure. We have been lucky to find some pieces used that are in good condition. The pizza ovens are brand-new and they were not cheap.
What has been your greatest struggle and your greatest success as you work to open 312 Pizza Company?
Staci, Dan and Kim: The greatest struggle has been the timeline. Since we have never built out a restaurant before, it has been hard to predict when our opening will be. We feel like we keep saying, “Just a few more weeks!” We are so excited to bring our food to the neighborhood; we just want to be cooking.
What have been the positive and negative outcomes of purchasing the space when it was just the shell of a restaurant, without even any walls?
Staci, Dan and Kim: It’s been hard to plan out our budget because there are many occasions when things cost more than originally planned. Little changes here and there add up, so we have to make certain we shop around for the best prices on all construction and equipment. The positive is that we can lay out everything in a way that is most conducive to our needs.
Are you sticking with Keith’s original design concept for the restaurant? What kind of design updates are you making?
Staci, Dan and Kim: We are sticking to the general idea of Keith’s designs. Everything we are doing is an update, since it was a shell. We decided to keep the concrete floor as is and just apply a sealant to it. We really like how it looks with all of the irregularities and imperfections. Some other updates we are making include designing the exposed ductwork and piping to make sure they are up and out of the way of our TVs.
What do you think are the makings of the ultimate Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, and will your pies be traditional in that way?
Staci, Dan and Kim: The crust makes the ultimate Chicago deep-dish. It needs to be flavorful, tender and not too heavy. If you do it right, people will look forward to finishing the pizza so they can savor the back end of the crust. We are also using premium ingredients. Our dough starts with non-GMO flour that is never bleached and never bromated with less than two-tenths of a percent of protein variance. Along with our cold-pressed imported Italian olive oil, this helps make a perfect dough. Our deep-dish dough has to be made the day before in order for the rich flavors to develop. We use only 100 percent natural Italian cheese that is specially made with premium Grade A milk and a kiss of buffalo milk. The buffalo milk gives the cheese a richer and creamier flavor and texture. Our beef and chicken are free from growth hormones and antibiotics, and we source local and organic produce whenever possible.
What else will be on your menu in addition to pizza? Will you open with any signature items or special incentives?
Staci, Dan and Kim: We will also have hot and cold sandwiches, Italian beefs, salads and an extensive appetizer selection. We want our deep-dish pizza to be the main item on the menu.
Who do you envision will be your typical customers (families, carry-out orders, catering)?
Staci, Dan and Kim: We envision our typical customers to be Germantown residents who can walk to our restaurant. They will be people who enjoy a friendly, casual environment and appreciate craft beer, handcrafted cocktails and amazing fresh food!
How will you be splitting roles at the restaurant among Kim, Staci and Dan, and what are you each most looking forward to for your new restaurant?
Staci, Dan and Kim: Dan will be the general manager overseeing all aspects of the restaurant. Staci will handle all outside sales and catering, and Kim will be handling in-store promotions, festivals and entertainment.