When you've successfully operated a business for more than a decade in a growing area of town, serving hungry families and ravenous 9 to 5-ers every day (an entire pistachio pesto, please), when it comes to major decision making, you have the luxury of taking your time.
"We haven't rushed anything," Evo co-founder Ricky Hacker says of the Park Circle mainstay's new venture, joining forces with fellow North Chuck success story Holy City Brewing. "We looked at a couple of spots that maybe had the potential to work, but waited for things to develop...the logistics of everything has fallen in place."
The spot Evo and HCB landed on is 94 Stuart St., the former home of Atlanta-based DeSano Pizza Bakery. After a little over three years on Stuart, DeSano closed up shop in November 2016 (though you can still grab it at the airport.)
Evo operations manager Abe Versprille says the cavernous space will be opened up even more. "With a lot of the floor plan, we're taking more walls down than anything else, adding a lot of light." Versprille says that the old entrance will be the entrance to the Evo bakery retail area, and they'll open up one side of the building with three garage doors, creating outside picnic table seating, an indoor/outdoor bar, and a stage for musical guests. "We'll start out heavily with music, see what the response is."
Holy City production manager and "brewery dad" Chris Brown says on the beer side of things, they'll have a five barrel system with potentially up to 20 beers on tap. He doesn't like the word "experimental," but Brown says to expect to see some beers you wouldn't normally see at the HCB mothership — "we won't be brewing Pluff Mud and Washout at the new location" — think French, Belgian, and wild varieties.
Brown says those beers and Evo's thin crust, wood-fired pizza "mesh pretty well." HCB brewers may take sourdough strands from the bakery see what happens. Even though it's not going to be some free-for-all experimental laboratory, the new pizza brewpub on the peninsula will serve as a blank slate for working with wild varieties, since they can't normally use those strands in their main facility due to cross contamination. "This spot will be open to whatever, we can go in whatever direction we want to go in," says Brown.
The new venue is yet to be named, but the guys don't seem too concerned. They don't want to delve into any kind of rebranding, Hacker says. "We've been joking around that maybe the community will come up with something."
The HCB and Evo crews aren't too worried about fitting into consumer-driven maps, either. When asked if they'd join forces with the Charleston Brewery District, Versprille laughs. "We're slightly south of them, I've talked with Chris Winn [Tradesman Brewing Co.] and he said 'we like to brew, we have a lot of fun, where you guys are going to be, let's have a party.'" And as for the peninsula pizza boom (see: Nimbo, Uneeda, Renzo, Melfi's, etc.)? Do diners really need another choice of pie?
"We're going on 12 years," Hacker says. "Things come and go, certainly people come and go. We'll stick to our guns and do what we do. We won't reinvent what we do. Matt [McIntosh] and I started in '05 and there was no one doing wood-fired pizzas. And obviously now it's blown up. That's fine. Let it keep coming, we're going to embrace it."
The Evo-Holy City concept will open, hopefully, early 2019. Expect similar hours for the bakery (7 a.m.-10 a.m.) and the restaurant (11 a.m.-10 p.m.). We'll keep you updated with the name, the logo, and any renderings as we receive them.