For O’Neill’s Pizza Pub
, moving out of downtown Rochester was, well, a pizza cake. After its debut in 2000, the restaurant with an Irish name and Greek-inspired menu once seemed as inseparable from its location downtown—the old Olmsted County Bank and Trust building now occupied by Goonie’s—as mozzarella is from pizza. But by 2005, Shannon O’Neill and her co-owners knew it was time to pick up and go.
Why did you leave?
We had a five-year lease on the building, and an option to renew in 2005. But the owners wanted to sell and we also knew what was wrong with the building and the location, so we said it’s time to go.
What was the worst thing about your old location?
Have you ever been out at night in Rochester? In the evening, the traffic really dies down. And, the face of downtown changes after nine or ten. We had a window kicked in one night.
Was it hard to find another place?
We looked all over Rochester. Every place was too big or too small, and, we thought, we’ll just close and keep looking. Then we heard Gander Mountain was closing in the Crossroads Shopping Center—it turned out instead it was Face the Music. Either way, the location seemed great. We signed the lease in September, 2005 and opened in December.
What’s the biggest difference between the old and the new locations?
We have all the free parking you could ask for—downtown, the city seemed to go out of its way to give customers a ticket, even when they were just stopping in for a quick slice and soda at lunchtime. The city says they want to work with businesses, but I have to question that.
Has your clientele changed?
Ninety-nine percent of the people who came in during lunch at the old location were from Mayo, but now we only do lunch on Fridays and Saturdays instead of five days a week. That part is gone. But we were lucky, our customers stayed loyal and moved here with us.
O’Neill’s Pizza Pub is located in Crossroads Shopping Center, 1201 South Broadway.