From DJ's to City's
A pizza (and sub) shop changes hands
Paul Stone and Patrick Krolick never planned on selling pizzas--they wanted to open a sub shop--but Andrew Jenkins talked them into selling both. Jenkins owned DJ's Pizza on Packard near Platt, a business that had been in his family since 1968, and when he heard Stone and Krolick wanted to open a sub shop, he convinced them that pizza plus subs was the way to go. Stone and Krolick bought DJ's in June, changed the name to City's Pizza & Subs, and opened for business in July.
Krolick, forty-one, and Stone, thirty-nine, know Jenkins from way back. DJ's was next door to Banfield's Bar and Grill, where Krolick worked as a bartender and manager from 1990 to 1999 before leaving to work for Fastenal, a national distributor of construction and industrial supplies. Stone worked at Banfield's in the same capacity from 1993 until this spring. All three were friends (Stone and Krolick met in the sixth grade), so they had no reservations about doing business together. And Jenkins' business philosophy dovetailed with that of his two friends, both of whom studied business in college, with Krolick going on to get his MBA.
"DJ's was a family business," Krolick says. "[Andrew] wanted to keep that kind of mentality. And certainly that's our goal, to keep it more of a traditional family kind of pizzeria and sub shop. We're both Ann Arbor kids. Our families are from the area. And we really want to grow the business around Ann Arbor, keep that kind of hometown feel to it."
Andrew's dad, Dean Jenkins, opened what was originally a Domino's Pizza franchise in 1967, but he left Domino's a year later and renamed it DJ's, after his own initials. And while Andrew, forty-seven, didn't buy out his dad until 2000, he grew up in the business. "I worked here...half my life," he says. "I started at five years old." This year, he was finally ready to sell the business and retire. He says
he had three or four interested buyers, but he approached Stone and Krolick because they "had the go and the best chance at continuing at what we sold at DJ's Pizza."
Stone and Krolick are using all of the Jenkinses' original pizza recipes, from the sauce to the dough, both made fresh daily on the premises. But they're adding a selection of cold subs made with fresh deli meats and cheeses--DJ's sold only oven-baked subs. "We want to be not only a great pizza place, but a great sub shop," Krolick says. "You can't eat pizza all the time."
And while they kept DJ's signature pizzas, they've renamed them to reflect the City's theme: the "Atlanta" is topped with pepperoni, ham, sausage, ground beef, and bacon, while the "Madison" is a BLT on a crust. The subs are named after cities, too: the "Dallas" has turkey, ham, bacon, and cheese, while the "Detroit" features corned beef, capicollo, salami, pepperoni, and cheese. (The logo features a drawing of the Detroit skyline.)
There are two significant exceptions to the city-themed names. The Stoney, a ham, roast beef, turkey, and provolone cheese sub, is named after Stone, because that's his favorite. Krolick also has a namesake sandwich: the Krodaddy, a roast beef and provolone sub with white horseradish sauce. City's also offers salads, chicken wings, and other appetizers. It seats half a dozen, but most people call and order for pickup or delivery.
Stone is excited about their new venture. "I grew up in the neighborhood around here, just about a mile down the street," he says. "This was my parents' and my neighborhood pizza. Fridays we'd come up here and get a DJ's pizza. It's come full circle. I'd never have thought when I was six, seven years old coming up here to get a pizza. I'd own the exact same pizzeria." He laughs. "Go figure."
City's Pizza & Subs, 3148 Packard. 971-2996. Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri. & Sat., 11 a.m.-midnight. Closed Sun.
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[Originally published in August, 2010.]