Pizza hounds take note. Johnny Reis of Hot Pie Pizza in West Palm has finally opened his express version of the shop, Johnny’s Hot Pie Pizza on Northlake Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens. It’s in part of the old Joseph’s Market space west of Military Trail.
Johnny’s Hot Pie Pizza is a smaller, counter-service mash-up of his pizza spot on Olive Avenue in downtown West Palm Beach. It’s billed as “New York Rock Fired.”
He’s been working on the restaurant for months, and local pizza lovers were anxious for him to open, he said. “We went through 30 inspections. That’s what took so long,” he said. “But I love this area. If I knew back then, when I opened Hot Pie, I’d have come here first,” he said.”People are great up here – they were knocking on the window and coming in asking when we’d be open.”
Reis started in West Palm Beach at Fire-Rock Pizza on Clematis Street, but sold and moved to the space at 123 Olive with the new Hot Pie Pizza name.
His customers in Palm Beach Gardens are a more upscale crowd than the downtown younger audience that is more interested in going out and partying, Reis said.
“They have their place downtown – lots of places there cater to them and that’s good. Our shop does great with them. But customers who don’t want to deal with finding parking, and kids hanging out on the street, the loud music and all that go elsewhere to eat.”
Diners can find much of the same menu from downtown at the new Hot Pie, but they’ll order at the counter, grab a drink from the cooler, and sit down at one of the tables and chairs. Take-out and delivery are available. Pizzas, salads, sandwiches (including his signature cheeseburgers) fill the menu, along with starters like calamari and oven-roasted chicken wings.
Ready to expand
He sells slices here at lunch – a huge part of his midday business, Reis said. “The first day we opened, they were lined up out the door waiting on a slice. It was unbelievable.”
The pizzas are cooked in a lava rock- and wood-fired oven. It’s already too small, he said, and he’ll have to expand it to keep up with demand.
“I really wasn’t expecting this. I knew we’d do OK, but it’s been crazy! We ran out of pizza dough the very first day.”
He’s putting in the hours to make it work. After he opens the shop in downtown West Palm, he heads to the Gardens to get to work. He’ll leave it at 9 p.m. – the weekday closing time – and return to downtown West Palm to close up Hot Pie. “I’m puttin’ in 16-, 18-hour days again,” he said, laughing.
He’s hoping to franchise the new small pizza shop concept. The name Johnny’s in the Hot Pie Pizza logo becomes the name of the franchisee, but Hot Pie remains. For now, though, he’s working on getting the concept down.
“Hey, busy is good, right?”
Johnny’s Hot Pie Pizza
- 4595 Northlake Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens
- 561-622-8847; hotpiepizza.com
- Open Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-111 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 9 p.m.