Since the Original Thin Crust Pizza Company opened in the Dayton section of South Brunswick, it hasn’t been easy slicing.
The restaurant is relocating to its third location in five years this April. But this time, owner Matt Verney is hoping the move will be its last.
The Original Thin Crust Pizza Company, which serves an upside-down pizza that developed a cult-like following after originally being served at Pete’s Bar in East Brunswick from the early 1970s to late '80s, will open at 111 Main St. in East Brunswick. It’s just about a mile from where Pete’s Bar once stood.
Verney’s pizzeria opened in the Dayton section of South Brunswick in 2017 before he moved it to Jamesburg about a year later. But COVID has forced him to move again.
Before the pandemic, his 80 seats were full on weeknights, and he was even busier on weekends. But after COVID-19, his dine-in business was cut by half most evenings, while takeout and delivery orders went up 30% to 40%, Verney said.
The new East Brunswick location has about 45 seats and is the former home of Speedy Hot Pizza, which closed last spring.
Verney is waiting on some equipment – supply chain issues mean a 10-week wait for a pizza oven – and he's making some décor changes.
The restaurant will look similar to its former locations, with camel and chocolate tones. Verney plans to hang Edison lights through the space and close the open kitchen to eliminate excess noise. There will also be some menu changes.
“I won’t move again,” Verney said. “If it doesn’t work out here, it wasn’t meant to be. But I’m moving closer to where my core customers are now.”
Last October, when Verney decided that the space no longer made sense, he announced that the restaurant would go out of business. The former accountant planned to find a different job in the restaurant industry.
“I got such an overwhelming response from my announcement that I reconsidered it,” Verney said.
But it wasn’t an easy choice. He’s had to pack up and use his personal funds to keep much of the restaurant furniture and equipment in storage.
“It’s affected not only me, but my wife, kids and our lifestyle,” Verney said. “It’s been an internal struggle back-and-forth. The restaurant business is stressful enough on its own.”
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Verney worked for the Vitale family, who created the famous upside-down pizza (with the cheese covered by the sauce). While at Pete’s Bar, he saw firsthand how much patrons adored the pie. So, when he found out in 2016 that he would lose his 26-year job as an accountant with General Electric, he decided to utilize his lifelong passion for cooking and reinvent the past pizza that so many knew and loved.
The pizza has no secret ingredient or secret cooking method, he said. Lovers of the Pete’s Bar pizza often say “It’s something with the sauce.”
“I never stopped making the Vitale’s pizza recipe, so I always remembered it,” Verney said. “My kids would get a kick out of it that I made homemade pizza, and family and friends who came over always liked it. So when the opportunity presented itself, I thought I could make this work.”
Go: Opening in April at 111 Main St., East Brunswick; facebook.com/thincrustpizzacompany/
Jenna Intersimone has been a staff member at the USA Today Network New Jersey since 2014, after becoming a blogger-turned-reporter following the creation of her award-winning travel blog. To get unlimited access to her stories about food, drink and fun, please subscribe or activate your digital account today. Contact: JIntersimone@Gannett.com or @JIntersimone.
This article originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com: The Original Thin Crust Pizza Company is moving to East Brunswick