Poblano Chicken Pizza ($ 15) is one of 17 specialty pizzas at Fire Stone Pizza Bar. (Courtesy of Fire Stone Pizza Bar)
Greg Emmons was in Albuquerque, New Mexico 25 years ago, working at a restaurant that had a brick oven for making pizza. It was there that Emmons began to gain experience to one day run his own establishment.
In 2018, Emmons was preparing to open his own restaurant, Fire Side Pizza Bar, in Pearland when his daughter, Allison, mistakenly called it Fire Stone Pizza, he said. Emmons wanted the name to instantly give people a visual of what was being served, and Fire Stone Pizza Bar did just that, he said.
“Pizza is one of those fun things,” Emmons said. “It’s a type of family thing where families sit together and share the same pot. There is something to say when you share something; there is a certain type of conversation to be had.
One of the unique attractions of the Fire Stone Pizza Bar is its brick oven. Emmons restaurant offers an extra touch is an open kitchen. As patrons sit at a table with friends and family, or relax at the bar, they can see dough tossed in the air and pizzas prepared.
Occasionally, Emmons said he could hear when the kids were hypnotized and drawn to the pizza being made. If the business isn’t so crowded, sometimes he’ll even bring them the dough for their own pizza so they can smell it, he said.
“It’s something that is part of our entertainment, of the experience that we create here,” said Emmons. “Part of the experience is seeing the action of what’s going on with your pizza and watching the guys make it by hand.”
After opening in October 2018, Fire Stone Pizza Bar intended its core business to be based on the dining experience, but COVID-19 forced the restaurant to readjust. When the pandemic started, it took away about 65% of their business, Emmons said.
“I wanted a place where people could grab their kids, grab their friends, grab their neighbors, go sit in a nice restaurant and have a full service experience,” he said. “We went from being a growth restaurant, a growth opportunity, to knowing how to survive like everyone else. “
Now, more than 18 months after the start of the pandemic in the Houston area, the restaurant has reached where Emmons expected it to be a year ago, he said. The business has moved to more take-out and delivery orders, but the appeal of the dining experience has also seen a resurgence, he added. Emmons attributes a lot to his loyal customers.
“I want them to feel a little bit of an owner of this restaurant,” he said. “They can connect because they love pizza, but I want them to feel like this is their restaurant.”