Pepperoni's to Reopen on Factory Street in Watertown
October 18, 2013
by Timothy W. Scee II
Special to Newzjunky.com
WATERTOWN, N.Y. — A popular city mainstay for chicken wings, hot subs and pizza in the 1990s is reopening its doors and, while it may be in a different location, its owner says its recipes have not changed.
Shannon M. Exford, who opened Sgt. Pepperoni’s NY Pizza Express Ltd. over two decades ago at 566 State St., is reopening the pizzeria of the same this month in the building that formerly housed Soluri’s Pizza at 526 Factory St.
In recent weeks, Ms. Exford and business partner Anthony M. Heaney began renovations inside the pizzeria and dug out the design for Sgt. Pepperoni’s old sign that depicts an Army officer carrying pizzas in a green Jeep.
“We actually had to update the sign a little bit since it was created before computers could do the work,” she said.
Ms. Exford said Sgt. Pepperoni’s will feature its original menu items including its char pit barbecue wings, ribs, steak sub on a toasted roll and buffalo chicken pizza.
“In theory, the menu is pretty much identical to the one in the 90s,” she said.
Although several local pizzerias feature buffalo chicken pizza, the Sgt. Pepperoni’s owner believes the pizza’s popularity originated from her original eatery.
“We were probably one of the first to come out with it and I don’t know anybody who ever pulled meat off of chicken wings to put on their pizzas,” she said. “But that’s what we do with ours.”
Ms. Exford said Sgt. Pepperoni’s will not be open for lunch after first opening and will instead market itself to the dinner and late night crowds.
“We’re trying to pull some of that diner, McDonald’s and Taco Bell drive-thru business,” she said. “We’ve noticed there’s not a lot of pizza places that are open late anymore in general.”
Sgt. Pepperoni’s will also offer a dine-in option with a few booths and tables.
One may find it difficult to determine the category of pizza under which Sgt. Pepperoni’s falls, Ms. Exford said.
“It’s not thin crust, it’s not deep dish,” she said. “We try to pull the crunchiness of a thin crust off without being too thin.”
Ms. Exford, who is an accountant and owns Exford & Exford Tax, 165 Mechanic St., said she was “roped into” getting back into the pizza business by a former employee.
“We did look back at going at the location I’d been at before because it’s been empty,” she said. “It has the same issue that it had before - no parking - and the traffic has picked up there.”
Ms. Exford said she eventually chose the former Soluri’s Pizza location after comparing prices for different locations.
“Just comparing dollars, apples for apples, I had been approached by Soluri’s in the winter and it was actually a better deal to go on Factory Street,” she said. “We’re currently leasing and the intention is to purchase the building next year.”
Although there is no set opening date, Ms. Exford plans to open Sgt. Pepperoni’s around Oct. 31.
Sgt. Pepperoni’s opened in 1991 on State Street and was in operation until 1999. A second location, in Adams, operated between 1994 and 1996.