You may recognize Jeremy Denno, owner of the new Rock 'n' Dough Pizza Co. off Ridgeway, as the man behind the pizzas at Trolley Stop Market. Or you may have seen him captaining the ever-popular Rock 'n' Dough mobile pizza kitchen. And neither of those things has changed.
"I still do dough for Trolley Stop, and I still do the truck," he says, sitting in his new, hip but casual pizza joint. "Once I get this place running and get everyone cross-trained to work here and in the truck, we'll be going full-steam again. It's just that everybody kept asking me, 'Where's your restaurant located?' Or, 'When are you going to come to East Memphis?'"
Two weeks ago, Denno did just that, opening the doors to his first brick-and-mortar venture next door to Amerigo in the Park Place Mall shopping center. Rock 'n' Dough is a family affair: Denno and his wife Amanda own the spot, his brother Nathan is the kitchen manager, and his mother Kathleen runs the front of the house.
The small, well-decorated corner spot features a nice lunch special — $6 to $9 for pizza by-the-slice, small salad, and a drink — and turns out full pies as well, lunch or dinner. Only two weeks in, Denno is already looking toward a bigger menu and more kitchen gear.
"We're going to do gluten-free dough; we're going to do pretzel dough and get a meat grinder to do our own brats wrapped in pretzel dough; we're getting a smoker to do real barbecue pizzas," Denno says. "I only have a pizza oven now, so I can't really cook beyond oven roasting, but once I get all the tools in place, we're going to do homemade meatball subs, homemade chicken Parm subs. The menu you see now is just to get the ball rolling."
The current menu is nothing to sneer at, either. You can get Denno's hearty pizza crust — crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside — topped with a wide range of fresh ingredients, including veggies, meats, and nine types of cheese, as well as the non-dairy cheese, Daiya, for vegans. They've got sodas by the can and bottle, sparkling water, and fresh-squeezed lemonade. The dining room only seats 18, but the by-the-slice system makes a walk-about pizza lunch easy to maneuver. Soon, Denno hopes to have a delivery system up and running within a certain radius in East Memphis.
Rock 'n' Dough is open Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and, starting soon, Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Rock 'n' Dough Pizza Co., 1243 Ridgeway (435-6238) @rockndoughpizza
The local Mellow Mushroom pizza franchise is opening a second location, this time at 5138 Park Avenue in East Memphis, in the former AAA building.
"It's a cool and unique building," owner Cary Fairless says. "We have a great location here in Germantown, but it's in a strip center so there's not really anything unique to it. We wanted something that might have a signature. It's a late-'60s, early-'70s bank building, and it's round. You just don't see that many round buildings."
The decor will be sort of retro-future: what the future looked like to Memphians in the '60s and '70s. The drive-thru will be converted into a patio with a small outdoor stage. If all goes according to plan, construction should begin by the end of this month.
Fairless and his wife Lori opened the Germantown Mellow Mushroom in 2010. This East Memphis location, which they own with business partner Andy Harvey, should be open sometime this summer. The hours and menu will be more or less the same as the other location, but Fairless hopes to have a larger variety of beers available — a total of 50, compared to Germantown's 30.
Mellow Mushroom, 3075 Village Shops Drive in Germantown (907-0243)
Broadway Pizza's East Memphis location is under way on Mendenhall behind the Belmont Grill and should be open by late spring or early summer.
The original, circa-1977 location on Broad Avenue isn't going anywhere. East Memphians will just have easier access to their Broadway Pizza favorites, like the Broadway Special, a kitchen-sink pizza with meat toppings plus a bunch of veggies. The new location will carry over the prices and beer and wine offerings of the original but is looking to add delivery to its services.
"It's something we'd thought about for a while, and that building happened to come up," says manager Andrew Ishee, whose parents, Denny and Dewana, own the pizzeria. "It's going to be the same food, same products, same recipes. We're just moving to a different part of town to keep people from having to drive as far."
Broadway Pizza, 2581 Broad (454-7930)