New Ann Arbor restaurant: NeoPapalis Pizza opens Wednesday
Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com
“We’ve been passing out a bunch of samples to the local community in preparation for the opening,” he said.
“We’ve given out a couple hundred pies already probably, and we’ve had our employees going through their training.”
The new pizza restaurant is the third such establishment in the increasingly crowded “pizza” district that has developed on William between State Street and Thompson, joining NYPD and the Original Cottage Inn.
“Our pizza is completely different than what anyone else is doing around here,” Sheena said.
“It’s an affordable gourmet. You start with our four base pizzas and then you can put up to five of 29 different toppings on. A 12 inch basic pie will be seven bucks, the most expensive will be $12.”
O’Neal Construction did the heavy lifting, turning the empty ground floor into a restaurant, and Sheena said they delivered right on their target date of September 28. He designed the space with the help of a U-M architecture student, and said the focal point of the restaurant will be his kitchen.
“It’s all demonstration cooking,” Sheena said.
“Our sandwiches, salads, and pizzas are made right in front of you. The kitchen is wide open, we want people to look at it.”
Employees at the restaurant will be a mix of students and people that have worked in the food industry in the area.
The concept for NeoPapalis was new for Sheena, who studied at the Italian School of Cooking in San Fransisco, and he says his modified Neapolitan style pizza will travel more easily than the original hyper-thin crust style, allowing students to take home leftovers.
“They can throw it in their fridge, put it in the microwave for a few seconds, and it will pop out pretty well and taste pretty good,” he said.
Sheena’s goal is for patrons to be able to come into the store, order, and receive their pizza in no more than seven minutes. To make that happen, he’s using new ovens that can cook the pizzas in under three minutes.
“I’ve never used these ovens before, they’re new to me. So we bought one of them and we were training with the staff off-site while we were waiting for the space to be ready,” he said.