A little more than a year ago, we shared plans
of a possible merger between Crust and Visible Voice Books, two separate businesses that would come together under one new roof.
In one of the last deals brokered by restaurateur and Tremont dealmaker Sammy Catania before his passing, Visible Voice owner Dave Ferrante purchased the rarely used Komorowski Funeral Home building (2258 Professor Ave.) in the heart of Tremont. Since purchasing the property a year ago, the team has been hard at work transforming the three-level structure into a comfortable multi-purpose space.
The main level will be devoted to Crust
, which will increase dramatically in size, comfort and efficiency compared to its current home around the corner (1020 Kenilworth Ave., 216-583-0257). The 1,800-square-foot space will accommodate considerably more diners in booths, at tables, and at the bar. Dine-and-dash customers can grab a slice to enjoy at the rail overlooking Professor, where a façade of windows will be open to the street on fine days.
“Are you excited to finally enjoy a beer with your pizza?,” asks Crust owner Mike Griffin, adding that the bar will feature a 12-tap draft system.
While the addition of a liquor license is nice, Griffin is more excited about the brand new HVAC systems, a huge improvement from the fan-and-door system at the original spot.
Crust fans should expect the same great pizza come opening day, Griffin adds.
“We’re sticking with our roots,” he says. “We’ll be using the same deck ovens. A lot of people call our pizza New York-style but I think it’s more like Connecticut-style because of its size.”
The upper level has been completely transformed thanks to newly vaulted ceilings, windows and skylights. Nearly 1,800 square feet of uninterrupted space will accommodate the new Visible Voice Books
, which closed after eight years back in 2014. Ferrante has more than 60,000 books in storage, and feels that the timing and property make coming out of retirement a smart move.
“Even when I closed I said that I would potentially be willing to reopen if I found the right opportunity – and I still believe the business model works if you keep your overhead low,” he explains. “I always felt I didn’t have enough room there. This would double the space I had and would allow me to explore a lot more different price points.”
Both Crust and Visible Voice will benefit from a massive back patio and 26-car parking lot.
“Parking used to be a little more flexible, but now with Tremont being so busy you can’t even park on the street to pick up a slice of pizza,” says Griffin.
In addition to a greatly improved façade with freshly scrubbed stone, new windows and a front patio, the building received a major lower-level transformation as well. The owners carved out a few extra feet from the earth, poured fresh concrete and added windows.
“We just thought, at this point, we might as well make it a three-story property while we’re at it,” says Griffin. “As far as the concept, we’ll decide down the road, but we thought, it’s Tremont, let’s be different. We have pizza, we have books, let’s see what works down here.”
The current plan is to open Crust in July followed by the bookstore in August. Griffin will have to shutter the business for a few weeks to facilitate the move.
“It’s funny, first we move into a strip club,” says Griffin, referring to the new Midtown location in the former Bada-Bing (3000 St. Clair Ave., 216-589-9711), “and now we’re moving into a funeral home.”