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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Alex Coats is about to realize a plan he has had been dreaming of for almost a decade: Opening one of his New York-style pizza restaurants in Louisville.
Goodfellas Pizzeria — which Coats said he and business partner Eric Boggs first launched when he was 25 with a 650 square-foot store in his hometown of Lexington — will open a ground-level shop 650 Baxter Ave. as part of a mixed-use development, The Baxter.
Coats said he is hoping to hold a grand opening of the restaurant — which is by the intersection of Baxter Avenue and Broadway — in December, right around the holidays.
Sitting at a table in the roughly 6,300 square-foot space Wednesday as construction crews worked, Coats told me that the restaurant’s by-the-slice offering is its most popular draw.
“As soon as you walk into the space, you get hit with a big glass display case of all our different pizzas,” he said. “And we don’t typically just do cheese or pepperoni — we throw crazy toppings on all our pizzas.”
“That’s what makes it so attractive: You can walk in and see all these slices (and) you can say, ‘Let me do the chicken with roasted red peppers and basil’ and get it for $3.50 or $4.”
The big glass display case is an homage to old New York pizza spots, according to Coats. He said the restaurant will also feature archways, meant to be reminiscent of class pizza restaurants in the Big Apple like Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn or Lombardi’s in Little Italy.
Coats also said that the restaurant will feature an indoor and outdoor patio-style bar, a pool table, couches and a fireplace. He estimated that the restaurant will have 120 to 150 seats.
The “coolest part” about the restaurant, according to Coats, will be a speakeasy called the Wiseguy Lounge. Though it doesn’t require a password, the speakeasy, which can be reached through an arch tunnel to the back, will serve as a nod to the 1920s and feature whiskey and craft cocktails and beer.
Coats declined to comment on the estimated cost for the project. He said that the restaurant will employ 25 to 30 workers, and that it will provide close to 100 spaces in parking in The Baxter’s parking garage.
If Goodfellas Pizzeria sounds familiar to you, it’s because Coats and his team recently had a separate attempt to enter the Louisville market.
The Courier Journal reported in 2018 that Goodfellas Pizzeria was eying a space across the street from its new location at 1250 E. Broadway. The company announced in April 2019 that it dropped those plans.
Coats told me Wednesday that his team made it a “long way” with that property, as they got the permit approvals and had positive receptions from nearby neighbors.
“We just couldn’t get to the finish line with the landlord,” Coats said. “He really wanted to start receiving some payment for his property, and we had a long road of construction ahead. So we saw the Baxter across the street and were like, ‘Let’s go talk to these guys across the street and see what we can do.'”
Ownership of The Baxter supported the project and “gave us a great offer on the property (and) helped fund some of the project,” Coats said without providing specifics. Coats added that the restaurant usually looks to renovate historic designs, but that he is excited for the new-build.
This new Louisville spot will mark Goodfellas Pizzeria’s 10th location, as the restaurant has set up shop in Lexington and Covington in the Bluegrass State, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Bloomington in the Hoosier State and Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“We try to design every single one of (the restaurants) to be different from the last,” Coats said. “But the most important thing is: We try to dial into our neighborhoods. That’s what makes us still a small business focused on community, instead of just a pizza chain that’s coming in.”
Goodfellas Pizzeria isn’t the only new business to join The Baxter mixed-use development this year. Last month, North Carolina-based Hi-Wire Brewing opened its first Louisville taproom at 642 Baxter Ave.
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Category: Restaurant News