Rejoice, pizza lovers in Middletown! The owners of Coals Artisan Pizza plan to open a second restaurant early this summer in a new building to be constructed at the northwest corner of Shelbyville Road and Madison Avenue.
To blend in with nearby historic buildings, the ground-up facility will resemble an old-fashioned railway station.
Approaching their third year in St. Matthews, owners Mark and Madeline Peters have searched for a second outlet nearly since the time they opened their first in 2011.
“We looked everywhere you’d consider: Fern Creek, J-Town, Springhurst, Prospect,” Mark Peters said. They discussed the Middletown site with the developer in March of 2012 and found it ideal. “In a way it’s been good that this process took so long. In looking at other sites, we became more convinced this property is the one we wanted.”
According to Peters, multiple projects for the site have been proposed since the 1980s, but either Middletown’s city council and neighbors rejected those approaches or developers didn’t secure funding.
Neighbors voiced opposition to the new building last summer, when Peters said he was prepared to sign a lease on a 3,800 square-foot chunk of the development. Developers have since convinced locals the building will add to the neighborhood.
“We understand the neighbors’ concerns, so we are going to be respectful of their wishes and be good neighbors ourselves,” Peters said. Coals’ corner location does include a patio, which Peters said will be surrounded by trees to minimize noise. “We’re not a bar, so noise isn’t a problem. But we will pipe in just enough music just to cover the ambient noise from Shelbyville Road.”
Peters said the only significant difference between Coals 1 and Coals 2 will be the placement of the party room. At Coals 1, that space is on the second floor; at Coals 2, it shares the main floor and can be made private by closing a set of doors.
“We want people to feel they’re part of the action … to be able to see the bar and the pizza oven at the center of it all,” he said. “When you have a private rehearsal dinner, you can close the doors. That’s the only difference.”
Just like the current oven, the new one will burn anthracite coal, which Peters said is the highest energy-dense carbon based fuel on the planet and burns 60 times cleaner than wood.
“That’s a part of our concept that can’t change, but we haven’t decided which oven we’ll choose,” Peters said. The current model is a massive, multi-ton Wood Stone model made in Bellingham, Wash., that takes a lot of time and practice to master. “It’s like steering a battleship in that small inputs have a large effect over time. It takes some finesse to learn, but our guys are used to it.”
Peters said he’s pleased to have a veteran staff he can use to train new team members in Middletown. He’s also considering making the Middletown store a dough commissary for both restaurants.
“Our crust is the foundation to everything we do, so we’re going to protect it and its quality,” he said. A dough mixer is a major investment, he said, and the labor required to learn the cold-rise recipe is another. “A commissary would allow us to make the dough in one place each day and have that control, and we have to be 100 percent sure we can do it right. We’re absolutely fanatical about it.”