News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 3, 2014

Engines to pizza

Wise Pies to expand with second store in renovated Jiffy Lube on South end

TERRE HAUTE — Wise Pies, a popular downtown Terre Haute pizzeria, plans to open a second location at Third and Margaret streets in April.

Construction work on Wise Pies Pizza & Subs II is under way at the former Jiffy Lube site on the northwest corner of that intersection.

“We love our downtown location and it’s been very good,” said Zack Wise, who owns the business with his wife, Joni. But with the new site near Interstate 70, “We’re looking to introduce more people to our New York-style pizza.”

In purchasing the property, the couple hopes to draw travelers, motel traffic and those headed to or from the busy south side — as well as their existing clientele.

The plan is to open April 15, the fourth anniversary of the opening of the downtown location at 9 S. Sixth St.

The menu will be the same: pizza with New York-style crust and fresh toppings; breadsticks, salads and hot or cold subs. Pizza is available by the slice. Some of the specialties include buffalo chicken pizza, vegetarian “out of the garden” pizza and the ricotta/provolone/mozzarella combination  white pizza.

“Wise Pies has been well-received in the Wabash Valley, which has given us an opportunity to open a second store,” said Joni Wise, who assists with the business and also is the administrator at the Vigo County Health Department.

The Wises are using the existing building for construction. The site has been cleared for use through the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and other agencies, Joni Wise said. “There are no environmental issues.”

The re-purposing of old, abandoned gas stations into eating establishments is a trend in the U.S., according to CNN.com. The former service stations are typically located on prime real estate, with good visibility and accessibility. They often are near residential neighborhoods.

Despite the cold temperatures Friday, construction work was under way, and Zack Wise — a former union carpenter and race horse trainer — was assisting by adding his own “sweat equity.”

The new restaurant decor will be similar to the downtown location, which employs about 15 part-time people, including students from Indiana State University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

Zack Wise expects the new location might employ about 20 part-time people.

Patrons of the downtown Wise Pies were happy to hear about a second location. “It’s the best pizza in town,” said Mike Parker, who works at Novelis Corp. in North Terre Haute but eats at Wise Pies every Friday.

He had only one regret about the new, southside location. “I wish it was north,” he said.

Also stopping by the downtown location to pick up two pizzas Friday was Robyn Lugar, director of the bachelor’s in Social Work program at Indiana State University. The pizzas were for department employees. She agreed with Parker’s assessment. “It’s the best pizza in town.”

The client base includes church groups and sports teams, Joni Wise said. “The best marketing has been word of mouth,” she said. Wise Pies also works to make sure it has an excellent product, comfortable environment and great staff, she said.

Joni Wise said her husband is always looking for a challenge, and they both are looking forward to the opening of Wise Pies II. Between that, and a second grandchild born into the family on New Year’s Day, “It’s going to be a great year,” she said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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