Gray Brooks, who graduated from Durham's Jordan High School and UNC-Chapel Hill, is returning home to Durham to open All City Pizza, hopefully by early next summer. (Go HERE to see an image of the building in Durham's Five Points area and details on the sale.) Brooks' presently works as the chef at Seattle's Serious Pie, one of a dozen restaurants owned by restaurateur Tom Douglas.
Brooks, 43, answered a few questions via email and so I thought I'd share his answers.
About the location (102 Morris St.): "One of my favorite things about our location is that we're right across the street from Whiskey, a fantastic bar that resides in a space in which my grandfather Peter Ligets used to own a restaurant called ABC Lunch. [This is] sort of a full-circle, homecmming thing. I actually wanted to call the restaurant ABC Pizza, but there is apparently a 40-something year-old pizzeria in Florida that owns the rights to that name."
About the concept: "Super simple. Wood-fired pizza. Our menu is going to be divided into four sections: antipasti, shared appetizers, salads and pizzas. The pies will be around 13 inches, enough for one person or split between two, if you're not real hungry, or if you share a couple of appetizers. We'll get everything that we can from local farmers; some of the stuff, like some of the cheese we'll use, will come from Italy. The soul of our place is our crust. It's a three day process; we use a slow fermentation in order to get a fully developed dough...It results in a crust that's really flavorful and chewy with a nice crunch to offset the chewiness, like really good bread."
About his restaurant career: "I've worked for Tom [Douglas] for the past 11 years. Before that, i was part of the staffs at two other Seattle restaurants: Brasa (since closed, I'm sad to say, but had a good 10-year run, then fell victim to the financial crisis), and Cyclops (cool little indie cafe that I helped open). I worked at a bunch of different restaurants on Martha's Vineyard, the best of which was a place in Edgartown called Chesca's....During the school year, I worked at Crook's Corner, mostly as a busser, but occasionally in the kitchen ...and at Pepper's Pizza in Chapel Hill and later running a second restaurant they opened out on Ocracoke."