Joe’s Pizza, an authentic New York City establishment, recently opened its first location outside of the five boroughs on South University Avenue. Joining the slew of pizza places in town, Joe’s aims to provide a new kind of slice and experience without usurping existing pizzerias.
While Ann Arbor may seem like an odd choice for Joe’s first out-of-state site, partner and manager Peter Levin revealed the motivations behind the big move.
“My business partner Ian and I both went to U of M, we’ve been friends ever since,” Levin said. “We were like, if we’re going to expand Joe’s lets do it in Ann Arbor. There’s such a great market here, we have the obvious ties to Ann Arbor and we felt it would be a really great fit.”
Situated in a prime location for maximum foot traffic, just across from the engineering arch, Levin said there was extensive planning behind their new venture.
“We wanted to open an iconic location, we plan to be here for a really long time, and we wanted a location that kids will remember after school into the years, and we felt that this was it,” he said. “We knew that Ann Arbor, or that Michigan, has a really large East Coast student base, so we felt the combination of the East Coasters and just putting out a great product and winning over new customers, that this is definitely the location for us.”
First-year Law student Gabe Rosen, a native New Yorker, explained his excitement at having a slice of home so close by.
“I love the fact that as a lifelong New Yorker I can have an authentic pizza experience even while I’m checking out the Midwest and going to school here,” Rosen said.
With regards to the potential competition from other local establishments and the effect a new option for pizza would have on business in Ann Arbor, Levin said the company felt they were unique enough to succeed in the market..
“We feel we are offering a different product than most of the other pizzerias here and we want to see everybody do great,” Levin said. “We just felt we were offering something a little bit different than the other pizzerias and much more of a New York focused slice. We are confident that there’s enough year round business in Ann Arbor, there’s a lot even beyond the University students, there’s locals and start ups and everything else going on, that we love the city of Ann Arbor as a whole, not just because of the University.”
Business sophomore Grant Andrews shared his thoughts on the opening of Joe’s and its impact on other local pizzerias while enjoying his first slice.
“It’s definitely a big name now, it’s already probably the biggest name pizza place in Ann Arbor and its been here for like two weeks, its making a big impact,” Andrews said. “I would say it’s probably good for competition, it’ll make other pizza places step up their game.”
Ann Arbor is home to many other well-established pizzerias including local staple New York Pizza Depot. Owner Domenico Telemaco said he wasn’t worried by the newest addition to Ann Arbor’s pizza market.
“It’s just another pizzeria,” Telemaco said. “I been here for 23 years, I think that my clientele will continue to be my clientele.”
Telemaco also shared his thoughts and confidence in NYPD’s customer loyalty, based largely in Ann Arbor’s local residents.
“After 23 years honestly the bulk of my business is with the city of Ann Arbor even though we are really close to campus,” he said. “Over there on South U it’s more student dependent than it is on this side of town.”
Telemaco also elaborated on the possibility of new competition in Ann Arbor’s crowded pizza market, especially from another New York style slice.
“He opened and I don’t wish him to close, I hope he does well I hope he stays there,” he said. “After 23 years I’ll continue to do things my own way, I cannot change my ways just because Joe.”
Also new to Ann Arbor this September is Snap Custom Pizza on East Liberty Street. Expansion specialist Dan Chilla shared his thoughts on the other new addition in town and the upside to providing consumers with multiple options.
“We want to do what we do very well, we have no problem with anyone else doing what they want to do,” he said. “A little competition is always a good thing we think, you know, I think we can all coexist.”
The closest pizzeria to Joe’s is South University Pizza, located just across the street. Manager Karm Ghussani said he felt confident in their customer loyalty and high quality product.
“We’ve been here like maybe like 11 years so we have customers… so customers never leave us,” he said. “Our quality is good quality, really high quality put here and people love our pizza.”
While it may be too soon to tell the true effects Joe’s Pizza opening will have on the community, Levin expressed his own vision for the future of this new local business.
“Our goal long term is to be around long term and to really integrate with the University and the city,” he said. “It’s so much more than just making pizza, we want to make a positive community impact where we can.”