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Despite Best Efforts, New Hampshire Pizza Company Closes in Downtown Concord After 2.5 Years



Joel Harris, a restaurant entrepreneur whose fingerprints have been all over the New Hampshire food scene, had plenty of dough to cook brick-oven pizza but not enough customers eating slices to keep revenues up.

On Saturday, Harris announced he was closing his newest business – the New Hampshire Pizza Company – after a 2½-year run that began with optimism and excitement and ended with another shuttered business on Main Street in Concord.

“We never did the business we needed to do to sustain the qualify of food and product we were putting out,” Harris said by phone Wednesday. “The service was good, but we could never make the numbers work. We floated as long as we could, and after a lot of effort, it simply was not working.Hunting seasons starts Sept. 1 with more than 50,000licenses issued

In his post, Harris foreshadowed a new restaurant opening in its place.

“Stay tuned for exciting changes to our space,” he wrote.

Harris said Wednesday that his business partner, Jay McSharry, plans to open an eatery in the downtown Concord spot called Street, which has locations in Portsmouth and Exeter.

“It’s street food from around the world,” Harris said.

In other pizza news, Vinnie’s Pizzaria, a popular restaurant on a narrow strip of land between South Main Street and West Street, has been dark through the summer. A sign out front says the pizza place would close for the month of June, but its doors never reopened after that.

Fans continue to post messages, wondering what happened to the old-school pizzeria, with its glowing red marquee that misspells the name, its photo collection of boxing champions covering the walls, and its NY-style pizza.

Its owner could not be reached.

In years past, Harris made a name for himself through his Mexican restaurants, the first of which opened in Portsmouth in 2003 and only recently closed.

At his new location he hoped that his novel approach –brick-oven cooking, rather than using a conventional pizza oven – would attract customers looking for a different style of pie.

Before opening, Harris sent his chefs to Brooklyn, N.Y. and West Haven, Conn., to learn how to perfect brick-oven pizza.  

He featured a thin crust and prided himself on creating a family-friendly atmosphere, while also catering to adults with a full bar. He planned to stay open until 10 p.m on weekend nights.

His first day was a soft opening on Jan. 12 of 2022. That coincided with the annual Black Ice Hockey Championships, held each winter at White Park, an event that annually draws a local hockey fan base as well as players who had since moved away after high school or college, but enjoyed returning to Concord to hit the ice with old friends.

Harris said he made a mistake by not opening for lunch. He also misjudged the work involved and skill needed to make a unique kind of pizza.

“This pizza is more difficult than people think, especially making it from scratch, making the dough, stretching the dough, topping it,” Harris said. “And a brick oven takes more staff, and that is something I miss calculated on.”

His first business, Dos Amigos Burritos, opened in Portsmouth in 2003, when he was just 24, and was a staple downtown for 18 years before closing in 2021.

He had high hopes for his latest Concord venture that never came together like the perfect pizza.

“This really is the first time I had a misstep,” Harris said. “Others have come and gone, but I was selling them for different reasons. I’m happy with the track record I had. I consider myself lucky to have been in business for more than 20 years.”

His local franchise, Dos Amigos Burritos, remains open at 26 North Main Street and is doing wel l, Harris said.

Source : Concord Monitor

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