COLUMBIA — About 50 years ago, Columbia acquired its first pizza place, the Pizza House, owned by Paul “Red” Castle and Roland “Moe” Beland. Fifty years later, Castle and Beland’s pizza has come full circle with the Sept. 15 opening of the restaurant Red and Moe.
The owner of the former Trattoria Strada Nova, an Italian restaurant that closed in 2007, has opened a new pizza place in the same location, 21 N. Ninth St.
When Tom Ripetto got his first job as a dishwasher for the Pizza House at 13, he didn’t realize the impact it would have on his life. His employers, Red and Moe, became his mentors in more than just the pizza-making business.
“They were an influence in keeping me busy on productive things," Ripetto said. "They helped me with my work ethic and kept me on track. They were also a big inspiration with music. They had great taste in music.”
Fifty years later, Ripetto, along with his wife Ellen, has opened a pizza place with Red and Moe’s influence in mind, just two doors down from the former Pizza House.
Red and Moe is just one of the new business changing up downtown. Mississippi Fish Shack has moved and a new frozen yogurt shop is set to open its doors in October.
A main similarity between Red and Moe and the Pizza House restaurants is the crust Castle and Beland used to make.
“It is a simple hand-made thin crust, so we can emphasize the fresh toppings that we use," Ripetto said.
Some of the pizzas on their menu this month are basil pesto, fresh peaches, roast chicken and the Red and Moe traditional. Other than pizza, there are soups, salads and desserts on the menu.
Ripetto attributes the recipes to the chef manager, Trey Quinlan, who experiments with different ingredients.
Ripetto buys his products locally and seasonally and changes his menus monthly based on what is in season and what is available from local farmers.
“We try to buy locally for two reasons: Sustainability, and local produce is basically better than anywhere else,” Ripetto said.
Although Ripetto and his family have owned restaurants in the past, including Trattoria and Potager, an upscale restaurant in Denver — a pizzeria was always his dream.
“I've always wanted to open a pizzeria, blending with it an upscale feel and fresh ingredients,” Ripetto said.
Red and Moe isn't the only new business in downtown.
Wall Candy, a poster and graphics printing service, opened Sept. 21, at 12 S. Ninth St. The store sells customized paper posters, repositional wallpaper and banners.
The owners, Sam Correll and MU senior Jeremy Elson, who went to high school together, wanted to open a store downtown because of the large college student demographic.
"There is a lot of foot traffic, and this type of store just seemed like it would merge best with a downtown atmosphere," Correll said. "Our original vision for clientele was college students, but we've quickly discovered every demographic is interested, especially high school age."
Another big change downtown was the move of Mississippi Fish Shack from Broadway to Ash Street.
The owner, Kim Perry, said the move was to better her business.
"Mainly, parking was a severe problem downtown," Perry said. "Many of my customers are elderly or handicapped, and it was hard to walk the distance when parking far away."
The fish shack's move also helped financially, Perry said.
"Being off Stadium brings a much greater traffic flow and more visibility," she said.
The fish shack's former location on Broadway will soon be replaced by Bambino's Italian Café.
Other changes being made to downtown:
- The Vespa shop, previously located on Broadway, has moved to the Mid-Missouri Harley Davidson store at 5704 Freedom Drive. A new flower shop, My Secret Garden, will take its place on Friday.
- Wren’s Birkenstock Inc. closed, and Red Mango, a frozen yogurt shop, will take its place on Broadway, possibly sometime in October, according to The District.
- International Café is taking the place of Ninth Street Tattoo. A moving date is not yet set.
- Saigon Bistro, a Vietnamese food restaurant, is taking the place of Café 9 Nove at 912 E. Broadway. A moving date is not yet set.