Rolling in Dough finds permanent home at Stirling Square

03/11/2014 9:10 PM |
Rolling in the Dough pizza truck owner Matt Michel (right) serving pizza at a party in 2011.

Rolling in the Dough pizza truck owner Matt Michel (right) serving pizza at a party in 2011. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Matt Michel, owner of the popular mobile pizza company Rolling in Dough, has found a permanent home in Greenport’s historic Stirling Square. 

But that doesn’t mean he’s going to be putting his fully restored 1943 K-6 International Harvester pizza truck up on blocks.

The truck will still be in operation — he’s just caved in to repeated requests from happy, sauce-stained customers to open up a freestanding pizzeria as well.

And Mr. Michel is doing his customers one better.

His company is days away from beginning construction on not one, but two storefronts on the property. Aside from the restaurant, which he’s naming 1943 Pizza Bar, he’ll also be opening what’s planned as a swank little bar and lounge called Brix and Rye.

“This is something I wanted to do for a long time,” Mr. Michel said. “We are excited, especially about the bar.”

The Square’s owner, Farouk Ahmad, said Rolling in Dough and Brix and Rye fit perfectly with his vision for the intimate, campus-style space off Main Street. Stirling Square dates back to the 1800s and has seen its share of businesses come and go during that time, the most recent a few-months-long venture by well-known chef Keith Luce to operate businesses called Main, Meet, Prep and Nosh, in four of the complex’s commercial spaces.

“Rolling in Dough is a huge plus for Greenport,” Mr. Ahmad said. “It supports our vision for the Square as a destination place for visitors and for locals.

“It is a special place.”

Construction is beginning this week at The Square. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

Construction is beginning this week at The Square. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

Mr. Ahmad bought the property in 2006 and briefly operated North Fork Oyster Company from the largest storefront, on the east side of the property, before leasing it to Mr. Luce for a restaurant called Main.

Known on the twin forks for its thin-crust pizza, Rolling in Dough got its start in 2009 when Mr. Michel launched the roaming business from the vintage 1943 pickup he retrofitted with a wood-fired brick oven. The truck could be seen at wedding after-parties, vineyard events and company picnics across the East End. Rolling in Dough has served pizza to public figures such as Bill and Hillary Clinton and “The Barefoot Contessa” chef, Ina Garten.

This is the first time Rolling in Dough will have a brick-and-mortar location. A $250,000 small-business grant the company received in January helped fund the new venue, Mr. Michel said. He also believes he’s developed a good reputation and has a strong enough customer base to hit the ground running with a pizzeria.

The 20-seat pizza parlor will feature an open kitchen so that customers can view the chefs at work, and will also serve as additional prep space for the pizza truck.

Brix and Rye will be more upscale — serving wine, whiskey, scotch, rye and other liquors in addition to Rolling in Dough’s popular menu items, he said.

“I think we will have a good following [at the Square],” Mr. Michel said.

The pizzeria will occupy the former location of Mr. Luce’s Prep, on the northeast side of the Square, and Brix and Rye will take over the space that once housed Mr. Luce’s Meet — both closed late last year, as did Nosh and Main.

Reached this week, Mr. Luce said only that the move “seems like good fortune for Rolling in Dough.”

A view of Stirling Square from Main Street. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

A view of Stirling Square from Main Street. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

Nearby business owners are welcoming the change to Stirling Square, and hoping the property will be abuzz with customers.

“We are really excited to see another local business open its doors in Greenport,” said Richard Vandenburgh, owner of a neighboring business, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company. “While it was unfortunate Keith Luce couldn’t successfully develop his vision for the Square, we are 100 percent behind Matt and his willingness to invest in a village location that will continue to offer an interesting and artisanal option to locals and visitors alike.”

“Hopefully, they will be serving some delicious local beer to go along with his awesome pies,” Mr. Vandenburgh added.

In addition to the two storefronts Rolling in Dough will operate at the Square, an Italian pork store and deli is slated to open in the former site of Mr. Luce’s Nosh, on the west side of the property, by summer, Mr. Ahmad said.

As for the former location of Main, Mr. Ahmad said he has already rejected five offers from interested vendors — opting instead to hold out for the right fit.

“We are looking for people to bring something that is missing to Greenport,” he said. “We want complementary, not competition.”

Mr. Farouk hopes to have that space up and running with a new proprietor by the summer as well.

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