All fired up in St. Jacobs

Wood-fired pie is the specialty of Those Pizza Guys, who opened earlier this month in St. Jacobs. [Sean Heeger]

Pete Tessaro was working with his soon-to-be business partner Chris Banks at a restaurant a few years back when they realized they worked together so well that they should open up their own business. Thus was Those Pizza Guys born, starting about five years ago as a mobile pop-up pizzeria travelling around to serve up their wood-fired oven pies at events. They operated seasonally for weddings and other events, while always having the idea in the back of their minds to open up their own brick-and-mortar shop.

Last year they finally took the leap and signed a lease on a storefront in St. Jacobs, taking on the majority of the renovations themselves, with a goal of opening in the winter. They had a few holdups that delayed the opening, then COVID-19 came along and further delayed their plans. The events they had scheduled to work were also put off, and they ended up suspending their mobile pizza service.

After some waiting and finishing touches on their building, Those Pizza Guys officially opened their doors July 1.

They are currently open just Thursday to Saturday – all three co-owners currently work other jobs – but Tessaro says the reaction from the community has been phenomenal.

“We think the response has been great. We’re busy the three days that we’re open, we get a good, solid lunch rush [and] crazy dinner rushes. So, we’re very happy with the way things are going, said Tessaro. “Come in and try [our pizza] for [yourself]. We’re definitely … a work in progress, and things are only going to get better from here. We’re very pleased and happy with the community. here in St. Jacobs, and even [from] the surrounding areas it’s been overwhelming support.”

Inside the building, there’s seating for about 16 people. With current restrictions, only about half the number of people can be seated at any given time, but he says most people do not really sit indoors. To offset the limited space, a patio is connected to the restaurant and seating is available for those who do want to enjoy their pizza. Tessaro says they are still currently working on the patio as they had not planned to open it up for a while, but because of COVID-19 they applied for a patio permit and were cleared to open and expand the patio to allow for more customers.

Those Pizza Guys serves wood-fired pizza in a traditional Neapolitan style, but with their own twist. Tessaro prides the business on their ability to have quick service and great quality pizza, which includes hand-pressed dough. They currently have about eight pizzas on their core menu and an additional two which are considered weekly specials. In the future he hopes to potentially add salads and other items to round out the menu. They are also looking into adding craft beer from local breweries so they can be known “for making great pizza but also a place where you can sit down and have a drink and eat your pizza and be on your way and go enjoy the village.”

Open just three days a week, Tessaro hopes to extend the operation, moving to more regular hours every day of the week.

“[Ideally] we would like to be open more days… when people ask [about opening more days] I tell them that we’re going to do it in stages, like Mr. Ford,” he said, referring to Premier Doug Ford’s phased-in reopening of economy.

“So, stage one was Thursday to Saturday. Then, you know, we’re still working on the patio on our day off, which is Sunday. So, on Sunday we see how many people are still in the village and we’re like we got to be open on Sunday. And so, Sunday will probably be stage two, and then we might add, you know Wednesday evening or Tuesday Wednesday evening, things like that.”

For now, their mobile shop is “closed indefinitely” with only events that were currently on the books – or ones that were rescheduled – being catered. Once things calm down, Tessaro hopes that they can still run the mobile pop-up and serve their pizza to people at events.

They are planning to start looking for anyone who may want work within the next month as well, with Tessaro saying students or those who need help and want to learn to make pizza or operate a restaurant will be able to find a job in the community.

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