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Celebrating Success Across Nebraska!
A Slice of new york in downtown chadron
How far do you need to travel to get a great New York style pizza? For people in Chadron, Nebraska, it’s as close as Main Street.
Owned by Melvin and Lisa Adams, Straight Outta New York Pizzeria has built a loyal following since opening its doors in February 2010. But before chef Melvin could serve up his first pie, the couple obtained the assistance of Tim Donahue at the Chadron office of the Nebraska Business Development Center in writing a viable business plan.
“Tim was a great help with the plan and all the paperwork,” Adams says. “We relied on his expert advice.”
Born in Wounded Knee, S.D., Melvin is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and is a descendant of Crazy Horse’s parents. He met Lisa when the two lived in Seattle.
Adams attended culinary schools and worked various jobs in the restaurant business in several states before he and Lisa moved to Chadron.
In Chadron, the couple invested $5,000 to open their first Straight Outta New York Pizzeria adjacent to a bar in the basement of a building. In an effort to gain exposure, they moved the restaurant to Main Street, directly across from the Eagle movie theater. The move has paid off in a steady stream of hungry customers.
Starting with the purchase of an old stone pizza oven owned by a local doctor, Adams has used his ingenuity and the Internet to purchase quality used kitchen equipment at a fraction of the cost of new. “I got a great ventless fryer worth about $10,000 on EBay for $400,” he says proudly. He and Lisa rolled up their sleeves and remodeled the dining room themselves, “so all it cost us was the materials.”
Adams says fresh ingredients set his pizzas apart. “I make everything from scratch, right down to the dough and the sauce,” he says. “I figure I made about 30 one-gallon batches of sauce before I got the recipe just right. I had one fella come in eight days straight after we opened, while I was still testing my sauces. He finally said, ‘I don’t understand it, Mel. Every day, the pizza is better.’”
Adams and his wife share the duties of running a popular restaurant. “She knows the numbers and I know food,” Adams says. “We complement each other. When it comes to the business, really the two of us become one.”
Their goal is to have “a string of Straight Outta New York Pizzerias up and down the Plains,” he says. In the meantime, satisfying appetites is at the top of his list.
“When I cook something that makes a customer happy,” he says, “then I’m happy.”
Adams has been smiling a lot lately.
NBDC Consultant: Tim donahue, director, chadron center