New Lenox pizza store owners: 'Everyone will win for this'
LENOX — It won't be just another pizza joint.
As the new owners of the former O'Brien's Market, partners in business and life Molly Lyon and David Joseph have big plans for their already-named Pizzeria Boema.
The full-service lunch and dinner restaurant is set to open in June, after an extensive, expensive interior renovation and exterior touch-up, including a paint job and some roof work.
Lyon closed this month on the Main Street property adjacent to Frankie's Ristorante, which she also owns. Joseph, a hands-on business partner who co-owns, with his sister, a real estate development company, Cedar Tree Investment Group, is well-known as an actor at Shakespeare & Company,
Indoor seating will accommodate 40 to 50 patrons, and seasonal outdoor dining is under consideration. Lyon and Joseph, who plan to be married in December in Costa Rica, intend to apply for a full liquor license.
Casa Boema LLC, their new company for the real estate, includes the Italian word meaning bohemian, or free-spirited and artistically unconventional, said Lyon, a Pittsfield native and 1999 graduate of Taconic High School, where she was a downhill ski racing standout.
After graduating from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2003, where she studied nutritional therapy and also notched downhill ski racing trophies, Lyon moved to Colorado to coach skiers.
While in college, she had been a server at the Village Inn and then at the former Spigalina Restaurant, the ancestor of Frankie's on Main Street.
"I've always had a passion for food," Lyon said. After several years in Colorado, she returned to Lenox to manage Frankie's, opened in 2007 by Stephane Ferioli, her husband at the time, and Jason Macioge. Ferioli now co-owns Alta's Restaurant, and Macioge is the longtime owner of Bistro Zinc and Betty's Pizza Shack.
Lyon became sole proprietor of Frankie's in 2016 and hired a new chef, Roman Grosu, who will be in charge of the kitchens at the new pizzeria while continuing at Frankie's, where he has introduced vegan options and gluten-free items to augment the traditional Italian menu.
Grosu had been a longtime chef at Rouge in West Stockbridge.
Explaining that Frankie's is a family-oriented restaurant, Grosu noted that "what we're doing is extending the family." His wife, Alina, a former server at Frankie's, will help train the new staff at Pizzeria Boema.
Lyon, aware that the market next door to Frankie's was for sale, approached O'Brien's last spring, after checking out possible sites in Pittsfield and Lee for the pizzeria.
"We often get asked here about pizza, and we listen to our customers," she said. "It's something we think would complement Frankie's, so, we thought O'Brien's would be a great space."
"We could never stop thinking about it," Joseph added. Talks intensified after last summer and a deal was struck after the couple was assured that necessary change-of-use approvals could be obtained from Town Hall.
"Our concept is based on a tried-and-true model, classic Neapolitan-style pizza, a light, delicate thin crust using tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and other fresh ingredients, with a wood-fired brick oven that can cook a pizza within 90 seconds at 900 degrees," Lyon said.
The menu, with a full bar, also will include wood-fired wings, calzones, salads, gluten-free and vegan options and gelato. Along with takeout, there are plans to add delivery. A 12-inch pizza is set to be priced at $16.
In order to operate two restaurants, Lyon and Joseph plan to add about 20 staffers for the pizzeria, joining the 27 employed at Frankie's in the off-season, increasing to 45 in summer.
"We have an incredible team at Frankie's," Lyon said, "and we've built that on the trust we have in each other. We've had a long-standing crew with us, and Roman has done an amazing job of transforming and managing the kitchen," while the front of the house is managed by Ashley Junod, who will also help set up the new restaurant.
The renovation contractor is Lyon's father, a former Taconic High wood shop teacher who operates William Lyon Carpentry and Son. The son is Molly's brother, Luke. Barry Architects of Pittsfield is redesigning the former market's space. Joseph will help manage the "all in the family" project, while continuing his acting at Shakespeare & Company.
Adams Community Bank in Lenox is financing the project through a $430,000 loan. The property was acquired by Lyon and Joseph for $350,000, according to documents at the Berkshire Middle District Registry of Deeds.
"The more, the merrier," Lyon says about an addition to the downtown scene in Lenox. "The more we bring to this community, the more people will come down, and that's better for everyone."
"We like to think Lenox is a great community for restaurants, and everyone will win for this," Grosu added. "Some people come to town in winter just to have great food."
But, public reaction to the project "started with `heartbroken,' " Joseph acknowledged, "because O'Brien's has been a real center to the community."
Even Lyon's son, Matteo, 12, reflecting the popularity of the market among kids for after-school snacks, was dismayed.
"He said, `Mama, I'm just going to pretend that I don't know who you are,' " Lyon recalled, laughing.
"The feedback now, after getting over the O'Brien's loss, is that people feel so excited about something like this, establishing something in the community that's going to be fresh, new and different," Joseph said.
Clarence Fanto can be reached at email@example.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.
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