It’s not everyday someone decides to cut a hole in the wall of his business. But that’s exactly what Brian Flynn, owner of long-standing downtown Iowa City bar Joe’s Place, did earlier this year — he put in a window between his bar and the building next door.
Now hungry patrons at Joe’s Place can walk up to the window, and order a pizza.
Flynn opened PiZan, a quick-service pizza restaurant, at the end of May. When the building’s former occupant, Pita Pit, moved out, he saw an opportunity.
“With Joe’s Place next door, it kind of made sense — I was trying to figure out how to provide food for Joe’s Place without putting in a full kitchen,” he said.
He also is working on installing a rooftop patio on top of the bar and wants patrons there to be able to order food. Quick-fire pizza seemed like a perfect way to please hungry bar patrons that could also stand on its own serving a lunch and dinner crowd.
At PiZan, convection ovens that reach 900 degrees cook made-to-order pizzas in under four minutes. Customers can order from a menu of signature pizzas or build their own.
“It’s a small niche that was missing in the community,” Flynn said. “The goal is you should be able to come in, pick all your toppings and be out in seven minutes or so.”
That doesn’t mean diners have to take their pizza to go — the restaurant offers indoor and patio seating. It serves milkshakes, but no alcohol; if you want a beer with your pie, you can take the pizza next door to Joe’s Place.
Along with PiZan and Joe’s Place, Flynn also is a partner in several other area eateries, including Donnelly’s Pub, Brix Cheese Shop & Wine Bar and Blackstone in Iowa City, 30hop in Coralville and the soon-to-open Tin Rooster in North Liberty. All of those restaurants are part of a group of about 15 affiliated businesses the owners call the Craft Concepts Group.
To open PiZan, Flynn partnered with Stacey Donahue, general manager of Donnelly’s, and Nick Craig, his co-owner at Brix Cheese Shop & Wine Bar.
Flynn said he appreciates being part of a supportive community of local restaurant owners.
“It’s just fun. I enjoy coming to work,” he said. “I have a lot of really good partners that make it fun for me. It’s kind of our family.”
— Alison Gowans, The Gazette