Sgt. Pepperonis NY Pizza known years ago for its taco pizzas, jumbo-sized chicken wings and steak subs is back in business after being shuttered for 12 years.
The pizzeria, which closed at the Paddock Arcade in 2001, reopened Sunday at the former Soluris Pizza building, 526 Factory St. The building was bought from Robert Soluri Jr. by co-owners Shannon M. Exford and Anthony M. Heaney this fall. The sale marked the end of an era for Soluris, which originally was opened in 1970 by Robert E. Soluri Sr. at 988 LeRay St.
Customers who were sad to see Sgt. Pepperonis leave are enthusiastic about its comeback, said Mrs. Exford, who launched the original business at 566 State St. in 1991 with her late husband, C. Louis Partridge. At that time, Mr. Heaney was an 18-year-old employee who delivered pizzas.
This summer Mr. Heaney, now 38, and Mrs. Exford, 42, decided to team up and revive Sgt. Pepperonis when they saw Soluris was for sale.
Its been like watching an old TV show for customers, he said. Theyre going to watch it, even though its dated. We were around for a long time doing our own thing.
Comments about the comeback have surfaced on the businesss Facebook page, said Mrs. Exford, who also owns accounting firm Exford & Exford on Mechanic Street.
In the 90s we had to earn our business and it built up slowly, whereas now, people are knocking on the door before were open, she said. Someone commented on Facebook that their dad used to order pizza at our State Street store. Now theyre going to do the same thing with their son.
The eaterys time-honored menu features super jumbo wings cooked in a charcoal barbecue pit; 10 uncooked wings weigh about two pounds. Pizza of the month specials will feature chicken cordon bleu and Big Mac varieties. The latter is Mrs. Exfords latest creation.
Its made with special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions, she said. Well never be the home of the $5 pizza here, because we take pride in using quality ingredients.
Its dining area will stay open until 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, catering to night owls.
Mr. Soluri Sr., 81, said that while he is disappointed Soluris Pizza has closed, it enjoyed a strong 43-year run in the community. His son, Robert Jr., took over the family-owned business in the early 1990s.
There were no shops delivering when I decided to open in 1969, he said. All of the news reporters got together and ordered pizzas from all of the shops and rated them in the Times, and only two were rated as halfway decent. So I knew I had a chance.
The Soluri family took pride in making pizzas with quality ingredients, he said, and built a strong following of customers because of it.
I used to have people order every night open, and they were very loyal customers, Mr. Soluri said.
Sgt. Pepperonis is open from 4 to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.