By: Laura Gillespie
Russo’s New York Pizzeria is dipping into the beer business. The Houston-based Italian pizza joint, which has numerous locations around the country and in the Middle East, is set to open its first brewery concept, Russo’s New York Italia Pizza Kitchen & Brewery, later this year.
The brewery team, led by brewmaster Giovanni Arrbitto, will brew four types of craft beer in-house, with the potential for more to come in the coming months. Russo’s team will also can beer at the site and will sell it to other Russo’s New York Pizzeria locations.
“I’ve been to several breweries where most of them don’t have really good food, they just have local beers that they make and produce, but the food quality is not there. So pizza and beer is the perfect mix, right?” CEO Anthony Russo said.
The initial brewery, at 3415 Katy Freeway, will be roughly 5,400 square feet and will include Russo’s staples, such as pizza. It will be along Interstate 10 near Studemont, and construction will begin sometime within the next two months. That location is expected to open early 2020 and will also serve as Russo’s headquarters.
The Katy Freeway location will seat 160, and Russo plans to hire between 35 and 40 people for the space. Russo estimates that the location will cost roughly $3 million to build from the ground up. Other locations should cost between $950,000 and $1.6 million. Russo requires that franchisees have $2 million or more in net worth, and the franchise fee for the brewery will be $39,000.
Russo’s expects to open over 20 more breweries in roughly the next five years, including one at Echo Lane and Bunker Hill in Houston and one in College Station. The location at Echo Lane and Bunker Hill will open roughly the same time as the Katy Freeway location.
Meanwhile, the company also opened four pizzerias in 2018, including two in the greater Houston area, in Pearland and Spring.
Currently, Russo’s New York Pizzeria serves pizza — both make-your-own and specialty — pasta, sandwiches, calzones, soup and salad. The brewery will have a similar, albeit smaller, menu. Pizzas will come with new toppings, such as portobello mushrooms and gorgonzola cheese.