CAMDEN — Twelve Mechanic Street didn’t stay idle for long. And it fulfills that downtown Camden need for a quick slice of pizza. Camden House of Pizza held its grand opening, Saturday, May 14, unveiling a slick interior, and a family more than happy to make it work.
“It was an opportunity,” said owner John McCluskey. “I was with the food service company Sodexo for the last 24 years. The last 15 I’ve been traveling throughout New England, so basically I would leave on Monday and not get back until Friday. This opportunity came up and I investigated it and it worked out for me.”
"Hello My Friends!" former owner Uncle Jeff would greet people as they came through the door. Jeff Soldatos owned the Camden House of Pizza for 18 years.
“Jeff is retiring and he is still working with us,” McCluskey said. “He’s showing me the ropes. We didn’t change much because he had a great reputation and you don’t mess with success.”
The House of Pizza has added a barbecue chicken pizza and a classic Margherita pizza.
The major change that people are really buzzing about, and which they like, is that they are selling slices at the counter. They also take credit and debit cards now, as well.
McCluskey said the Margherita pizza is starting to be pretty popular, Camden House of Pizza had a soft opening on May 5, but May 14 was our Grand Opening.
“There were some people of course who thought some things should be changed,” he said. “But we stuck with our gut. Jeff was here 18 years and he would not have been here if it was a poor product. We’re rolling it out, making some adjustments as we go along and when we feel comfortable we’ll make some changes.”
“I’ll tell you what was intimidating,” McCluskey said. “The gyros. I’ve never made a gyro in my life. Yesterday I made five. I gave one to somebody who I knew would be critical and they ordered a second one.”
McCluskey said Friday and Saturday were huge pizza nights. And he commented about deliveries.
“We are not making deliveries, but we are looking to see how we could do it,” he said. “What I’m finding is that places that deliver pizzas have large conveyor ovens to cook their pizza. We can fit six large pizzas in our oven at a time, so I’d like to try it and see if we can do it.”
Camden House of Pizza is a family business.
“My wife Mary works here,” McCluskey said. “My sons, Eddie and Mark, work here. And I hired some very strong part-time employees. One is a postman, one is a waiter and one is a fireman. I’m very excited about the quality of the employees I have. We’re open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. I’m home every night and it’s great, in the summer I’m sure we’ll extend those hours to 9 p.m.”
McCluskey said 15 to 20 minutes is the average wait for a pizza, but if they’re slammed, 45 minutes may make more sense. The family has removed the booths and added tables and chairs to give it more of an Italian feel.