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Meet Nicole Bean of Pizaro’s Pizza Napoletana in Montrose and Memorial

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicole Bean.

Nicole, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
This business started as my dad’s (Bill) hobby/interest. His primary initiation into pizza was to have a brick oven in the backyard as a multi-use tool, he’d always cooked barbecue and wanted to extend his outdoor cooking skills. After completing some research, he’d come to find that the brick ovens were meant for pizzas and bread.

Things began to spiral from that point. We’d made pizzas recreationally just for fun one night and enjoyed the process so much that started to order small amounts of flour from Italy and then tomatoes.

Making pizza at home became a weekly thing on Saturday/Sunday evenings. It was a delicious obsession, so much so that my dad had decided he wanted to start his own business and quit his corporate job. (Bill went to Pizziolo School where he learned to master the craft of Napoletana pizza) A year and a half later, that is exactly what he did with the help of my mom and brother, Matt.

We’d been living in Austin at the time but couldn’t find the right area to start, one day they came to Houston to visit my grandma and found the perfect location (In memorial’s Energy Corridor), a few months later my family moved to Houston to start working on building out the space. It wasn’t much longer before the oven arrived from Italy, we had to get a forklift to get it inside the space. It took 8 men to push it into its home and the rest of the store was built around it. The doors opened December 2011.

To say the rest is history is far from the truth!

The first year was challenging, with Matt being the only family member with restaurant experience. There was a huge learning curve and also for our customers, whom never had nor heard of Napoletana style pizza. Educating people on real pizza and explaining the process of the way pizza had been done for several hundred years (in Italy) became the norm. The first few weekends being open there were long lines and a few times that we’d run out of dough. Many people were upset they didn’t get to try it right away or that they didn’t like or understand the “new” style of pizza. It was an adjustment for many, but it caught on.

After being published by several food critics, the hype grew and business was doing very well and many customers wanted easier access to our pizza.

At 2 years in, Matt and my dad wanted to expand to a second location. (I’d moved to Atlanta to pursue my career in retail not long after the family moved to Houston) I’d received a call from my dad explaining the plan for expansion and it was at that point that I knew I needed to move back to Texas to help the family business. Expansion to the second location took much longer than anticipated.

Revamping a building built in the 30’s came with lots of baggage and also struggles. We’d run into issues almost daily with electrical or plumbing and even ridiculous issues with the city such as the color of the ovens. What was supposed to be an 8-10 month build out turned into 1-1/2 years. In April 2013 we finally opened the doors to our location in the heart of Montrose where we house 2 “twin” brick ovens. Since then, our menu has grown. Our Montrose locations now offer 3 styles of pizza: Napoletana, Detroit & New York style. We look forward to more expansion in the near future.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Absolutely not.

There is an element to operating a business that many do not divulge, because it’s not pretty. There’ve been many ugly scenarios in operating and building a restaurant. Often, it’s the stresses of the build-out, other times it’s the family dynamic and most frequently it’s the unpredictability of the daily grind.

I think we are in an interesting time right now, economically speaking. This has become the biggest challenge of all… overcoming a hurdle you can’t control.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Pizaro’s Pizza Napoletana – what should we know?
We are a small business, we are local but we built this business solely on “word of mouth.” That is our biggest accomplishment.

Our business is pizza.

We are best known for Napoletana style pizza, but we are expanding and growing. Our main focus is to provide authenticity in everything we do–we have an idea and then we expand on it, slowly. We don’t just willy-nilly it and hope it works. There is an R&D process, even if that means going to school and learning something new.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
For me personally, my family supports one another and we are each other’s biggest cheerleaders. It’s our business and together we find a way to make it work and know that our core value is to be successful in this endeavor. I also spent some time with Tony Gemignani and his right hand, Laura Myer who taught me how to make “American” style pizzas.

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Getting in touch: VoyageHouston is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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