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VOL. 127 | NO. 118 | Monday, June 18, 2012

Slice of the Pie

Aldo Dean brings pizzeria to Downtown’s Central Business District

By Sarah Baker

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Come mid-July, local restaurateur Aldo Dean will launch Aldo’s Pizza Pies, his group’s third concept in Memphis and second in Downtown’s Central Business District.

Aldo Sr. and Patrick Coode work inside Aldo’s Pizza Pies at 100 S. Main St. The pizzeria, which will serve New York-style pizza and offer 30 beers on tap, is expected to open soon. 

(Photo: Lance Murphey)

Dean is one of three partners behind the new 3,900-square-foot restaurant on the ground floor of Henry Turley Co.’s Barboro Flats at 100 S. Main St. Adam Slovis of Slovis & Associates LLC represented Dean and his group in its seven-year lease for Aldo’s Pizza Pies.

“We think this will become one of the gems of this section of Main Street, just because it has 100 feet of all-glass frontage,” Dean said. “It takes a good 25 seconds to walk past it, so that’s a good marketing point in and of itself. As far as brick-and-mortar location goes, we couldn’t have picked a better one.”

Dean is the majority owner of Bardog Tavern, which opened at 73 Monroe Ave. in 2008. His company, Adda Boy LLC, owns one-third of The Slider Inn at 2117 Peabody Ave. in Midtown, which launched last year, and now owns one-third of Aldo’s Pizza Pies.

Dean is originally from Trenton, N.J., and spent most of his life in New York City before moving to the South. He speaks some Italian, part of which he learned in school and other phrases he’s picked up from his Italian father and mentor, Aldo Sr., over the years.

Celebrating that Italian tradition, Aldo’s will be a full-service restaurant that serves 12-inch and 18-inch New York-style pizza pies and slices, deli-style sandwiches, calzones, salads and homemade desserts made from family-recipes.

Customers will have the choice of building their own pie or going with one of the 10 to 12 specialty pies offered daily, like the Naples, Margherita, jerk-spiced chicken, “Bring out the Gump” shrimp, and the meatball and ricotta Lombardy.

“We’re going to be authentic, the kind that you fold in half and the grease runs down your arm,” Dean said. “Italian is for lovers, pizza is for lovers, and hopefully, people love our pizza.”

The eatery will also offer 30 draft beer selections, a variety of Italian and domestic wines, Italian-fashioned cocktails and liqueurs, and a limited liquor menu. But unlike Bardog and The Slider Inn, Aldo’s is geared toward all ages.

“We won’t have shot glasses in here,” Dean said. “Everybody expects us to sell a lot of Jameson and Fireball, but we’d rather do that in a bar atmosphere, which is Bardog and Slider. It’s funny, the more things you open, people become very critical. So this has to really be a good example of a great restaurant. It really has to be tight.”

Aldo Dean checks out the deck ovens inside Aldo’s Pizza Pies at 100 S. Main St. The pizzeria, which will serve New York-style pizza and offer 30 beers on tap, is expected to open soon.  

(Photo: Lance Murphey)

Aldo’s will seat 92 inside, including a 20-seat bar area, and approximately 70 outside once both patios are operational. The restaurant, which will employ 60 to 70 part-time and full-time employees, will be run by general manager Brad Tedford, former corporate trainer with Incredible Pizza Co. and 13-year pizzeria veteran.

The hours will be 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. until midnight Thursday through Saturday. Aldo’s will offer delivery to the greater Downtown area, but Dean’s two big focus areas will be a $5 pizza slice and drink lunch combo and a “deeply discounted” ladies happy hour during the week.

“Happy hour is not what it used to be 10, 20 years ago,” Dean said. “It’s challenging to create a strong happy hour Downtown and especially one that attracts ladies … where they feel welcome and comfortable. Given the urban feel of this place, and the great people watching venue that we’ve created, I think that this is going to be a place where professional women after 5 are going to want to come and check out.”

Décor for the pizzeria was designed by Graham Reese Design Group, who put the finishing touches on the Belz Enterprises’ architect drawings. Wagner General Contractors Inc. handled Aldo’s construction.

Unique features include The New York Times wallpaper, reclaimed wood, a visible dough room and a family-friendly jukebox equipped with “all of the good Italian singers,” Dean said, including Jerry Vale, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

“We want to have a fun, interactive atmosphere,” Dean said. “I think this is a really great plug for this stretch of Main Street and the surrounding businesses. We’re all a patch in the same quilt. It’s niche-y enough that there’s not really any competing pizza restaurants.”

Dean has been working with the Center City Development Corp. to get up to $63,000 through two of its Downtown development programs and has been pre-approved for a façade grant and a forgivable loan.

To Jason Wexler, president of Henry Turley Co., Aldo’s is not only an operator that adds to the company’s diverse tenant mix in its mixed-use properties that include Wang’s Mandarin House and City Market, but it’s filling a gap in Downtown.

“It’s yet another well-designed, well-done restaurant that’s going to have a terrific patio and continue this sort of network on Main Street from Peabody Place to Union and even heading North to Madison,” Wexler said. “There are so many different submarkets and young people with different interests and agendas in Downtown walking around. With Local, Blind Bear, Majestic and BlueFin sort of spilling out into the streets in one neighborhood, that’s really one of those situations where everybody’s boat rises with the tide.”

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