ROCKPORT — As is tradition with the Flatbread Company, a pizza restaurant with several locations throughout New England, the Rockport community was invited to help in the construction of the new wood-burning oven that is the hearth and centerpiece of the soon-to-open restaurant adjacent to the Farmstead (the former Cody’s Roadhouse) on Route 1.
During the Sunday, May 31, construction event, as many as 150 men, women, and children were estimated to be in the building at one time, mixing clay by hand or foot, according to co-owner Bobby Morgan. He said that as many as 500 people were believed to have stepped into the unfinished venue throughout that day, now able to claim that they helped build the oven, which is the source of all cooking for the restaurant.
Morgan refers to Flatbread as a community-based restaurant.
Along with involving the community in the oven-building project, each restaurant holds a weekly Tuesday night benefit for a community organization. $3.50 of every pizza sold Tuesday night is donated to that week’s chosen need. Sometimes it is a community event, a school booster club, or a nonprofit — great or small.
This event has ”become a very sought after night in Portland. We have a waiting line that’s six months long,” according to Morgan.
The stack of applications is three inches thick, he said.
Morgan opened the Portland branch of the Flatbread Company 16 years ago, leaving there a year ago in order to open this one.
“I’ve looked at numerous locations....Luckily, they all fell through,” Morgan said as he stood in the midst of the restaurant he hopes to open for business in another month. “This is meant to be,” he said in reference to the building itself, the ample parking, and central location between Camden and Rockland.
Flatbread uses a lot of local produce, according to Morgan, who has already commenced building relationships with local farmers; in fact, he and his partners Doug Weber and Nathan Dunn, have been entertaining the idea of offering the parking lot for weekly farmers’ markets.
“We oftentimes go to farmers’ markets, buy things there... It could be a great thing for all parties,” he said.
With the toppings chosen for its pizzas, the restaurant aims to support produce and meat farmers, and from time to time, fishermen.
One of the salads offered is a mixture of mixed greens, celery, carrots with a little bet of kelp from Casco Bay and sesame seed. Also on the menu is the Farmers’ Market salad. All ingredients in the salad are from local sources. If what’s available is goat cheese and eggs, then that’s what the salad would consist of.
Morgan has already contracted with a local farmer who grows greenhouse lettuce through the winter.
Flatbread only offers one type of salad dressing of ginger tamari vinaigrette, which is highly praised and sought after, according to Morgan, who likes the simplicity of the company.
“Just pizza. That’s it,” he said. “And salad.”
The menu also provides a couple dessert options, as well as a full liquor bar, a little different from the Portland location’s limited beer and wine.
For those customers with sensitive stomachs, a gluten-free crust is available. This dough is made by a baker in North Conway, N.H.,, and not found at regular supermarkets.
The Rockport Flatbread Company location is hiring for all positions. Stop by the restaurant for an application when Bobby Morgan is there, anytime midweek between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Flatbread Company started in Amesbury, Mass., in 1998. Its 11 existing restaurant are all privately owned. Morgan’s Rockport location is the first franchise for the company. Peruse the menu and learn more about the organization here.
Reach Sarah Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.