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Forthcoming Columbia Pizza Parlor Aims for ‘90s Nostalgia

Il Focolare will open this month

Exterior of building
Location of Il Focolare
Il Focolare/Google Maps

The chefs at City Grit Hospitality Group (Small Sugar and former Birds & Bubbles in NYC) want to bring the pizza of their childhood to Columbia, S.C. Il Focolare will open at 2150 Sumter Street by the end of September.

“Our motto is ‘Every Day’s a Pizza Party,’ and we want the experience to reflect that energy,” says City Grit CEO Sarah Simmons, “We thought about what we loved about old-school pizza places from our childhood and tried to capture the ‘80s/’90s pizza parlor nostalgia in everything from the decor to the branding to the style of service but with a more modern approach to the menu.”

Simmons calls the restaurant an “anti-fancy pizza place,” serving pies, salads, small plates, and simple desserts. The kitchen will source locally when possible.

“We [Simmons and partner Aaron Hoskins] miss the pepperoni cups from Prince Street Pizza, our favorite corner pizza shop in NYC. So we found a supplier for the same-style of pepperoni. We dream about the clam pizza at Pasquale Jones, our favorite eat-in pizza place in NYC. So we’ve created our own version inspired by theirs.”

“We love pizza and had plans for a pizza spot down the road in our roadmap,” she tells Eater, “We have a lot of culinary and service talent within the restaurant group so this was a good opportunity for us to promote some of our team members and also make room for adding to the team.”

City Grit hosts a hospitality workforce development program for those looking to get into the industry. “As we continue to refine the curriculum and strategy for this program, we want to make sure we have opportunities for these participants once they’ve finished the pilot program,” says Simmons, “We’ve hired most of them, but until we decided to move forward with opening Il Focolare our existing restaurants were fully staffed.”

The full menu is online and the team is already in training with hopes to open by September 24.

Il Focolare [Official]
Chefs Sarah Simmons and Aaron Hoskins Launch All-Day Cafe in Columbia [ECHS]
City Grit Hospitality Group [Official]

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