Previously Featured Business: Pizza Plant Italian Deli & Pub
Pizza Plant celebrates silver anniversary
Jill Schmelzer, The Amherst Bee Reporter
Mangia! Mangia! Mangia!
In October 1980, brothers Daniel, Robert and James Syracuse decided to open a pizzeria.
Robert’s wife, Linda, was brought in as the restaurant’s first bookkeeper and waitress.
The idea was born after James, who lived in Chicago, raved to his brothers about how great the stuffed pizza was.
Robert loved to cook, and so he and Daniel traveled to Chicago to study the pizza and how it was baked.
The three put their heads together and conceived the Pizza Plant concept.
The brothers wanted to individualize the pizza they sold.
Robert experimented with various ingredients and different ways to cook the dough.
One day, he created a three-dimensional, football-shaped pizza, with the cheese, sauce and other ingredients baked inside the dough.
The pod was born.
The brothers trademarked the pod so no other restaurant could sell them.
Daniel, who has a degree in art, designed the restaurant’s menu and the logo.
The brothers opened their first location in Clarence Mall, where they created a vegetarian-friendly menu.
That location closed in 1987, and the restaurant moved to one of its current locations in the Premium Plaza, 8020 Transit Road.
The second location, which opened in 1982 in the Northtown Plaza, closed in 1997 after 15 years of service.
In 1995, the third restaurant opened at 5110 Main St. in the Walker Center.
In 1999, Robert and Daniel remodeled the Transit Road restaurant to resemble the one in Walker Center.
“It now has a timeless look,” Robert said.
The brothers designed the look of the restaurants themselves, making blueprints with a pencil and paper.
The owners show their appreciation to the community by supporting The Buffalo Zoo and Shea’s Performing Arts Center.
They also hold approximately four fund-raisers for local not-for-profit organizations each year.
One out of every 100 people is gluten-intolerant, meaning they are allergic to wheat, Robert said. Therefore, the restaurant offers “wheat-free Wednesdays.”
What goes better with pizza than beer?
Micro-beers are sold on a rotating basis. Pizza Plant sells its own brand of brew, “Inferno-Pod Al,” which is similar to Indian Pale Al.
“We are like an Italian pub now,” Robert said.
Robert uses his anthropology background every day in the food business, he said.
“There is such a history in food,” Robert added. “It goes together like mozzarella and sauce.”
Restaurants are used as meeting houses by people, Robert said.
Ethnic food plays a part in their restaurant.
A patron can get many different types of pods, including Cajun, Veggie-try, pancho, chicken souvlaki and the Sicilian-steak pod, among many more.
“We bend over backward for our patrons,” Robert said.
Every Saturday, from 8 to 11:30 p.m., a band plays at the Transit Road location, and once every month, from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., a band plays at the Walker Center restaurant.
The Pizza Plant also hosts beer tastings once a month, and on occasion, wine-tasting events.
During wine tastings, samples of the same type of wine are distributed, but in different variations, such as pinot noir.
“It gives them (customers) the opportunity to select from a variety of the same type,” Robert said.
The dough is made in-house. If spinach dough is requested, the chefs cut up spinach and bake it in the dough.
Robert and Daniel added items to the menu as the years passed, and now, 25 years later, there are more than 100 items to choose from, including different types of pods, pizza, salad bowls, pasta, wraps and sandwiches.
It is a real Italian cuisine. Mangia!