The owners of Punch Pizza may have figured out the perfect business formula for the college-aged consumer: beer, music and really good pizza.
Owners John Soranno and John Puckett opened a new Punch Pizza restaurant Monday in Stadium village on Washington Avenue. It is the seventh restaurant Soranno has opened in the Twin Cities area since he opened the first store in St. Paul in 1996.
The business has been growing steadily throughout its thirteen years. But Puckett – the man who founded coffee shop powerhouse Caribou Coffee – insists that Punch Pizza is not a mass-produced chain restaurant.
The pizza is cooked at 800 degrees in a wood-burning brick oven. Punch Pizza serves Neapolitan-style pizza, which uses fresh ingredients local to Naples, Italy. The dough is made with only flour, yeast, salt and water, and is shaped and rolled by hand.
“We make pizza exactly the same way it is made in Naples, which is the birth place of Pizza,” Puckett said.
Pucket and Soranno have been purposely growing their business slowly and steadily.
Soranno said it takes two years to train someone to master cooking pizzas on the wood-burning stove. The owners said they don’t want their business to expand faster than they can train their employees.
Punch Pizza is slightly pricier than other local pizza places, and Puckett admits that Neapolitan-style Pizza isn’t everyone’s favorite.
“When we first started, some people had never heard of Neapolitan Pizza,” Sorano said. “We’re not trying to capture 100 percent of the pizza market.”
To cater to the college audience at the new Stadium Village location, Soranno and Puckett added an iPod jack in one of the tables so patrons can play their own music over the speakers. They also increased their usual lineup of tap beers to six.