Joe Momma’s Pizza Set to Open Downtown in Summer
By MIRANDA ENZOR
PIZZA PRO: Blake Ewing, owner of Joe Momma’s Pizza, is set to open a second location in the heart of Tulsa’s Blue Dome District at 1st Street and Elgin Avenue at the end of the summer. For now, he can be seen running around Joe Momma’s current location at 61st Street and Highway 169, tossing dough and entertaining customers with his vibrant, outgoing personality.
MIRANDA ENZOR for GTR Newspapers
Blake Ewing is a problem solver.
That’s why his business card proclaims him the “Head Cheese” of Joe Momma’s pizza.
Today’s dilemma? Returning his wife’s car keys which he has just realized are in his pocket, answering this reporter’s questions about the pizza business and managing the Thursday lunch crowd at his restaurant, 10309 E. 61st St., off Highway 169 next door to All Star Sports Complex.
Was it mentioned he’s also thinking about the papers he needs to write later this evening? (Ewing is pursuing his second bachelor’s degree.)
The solution is simple enough: Ewing leaves the restaurant in the hands of his proficient staff and away we drive down 169 to return the keys.
It is quickly learned, however, this is hardly a blip in the radar for Ewing. He has much bigger projects to be thinking about: his long-time dream of a downtown Joe Momma’s Pizza location, for example.
“I always loved downtown, that was the original plan. I worked at Spaghetti Warehouse (in high school) and after I’d get off work, I’d drive around downtown and dream about what it could be some day. But working at Hideaway Pizza, that’s where the wheels starting turning.”
At the end of this summer, dream will be reality when Ewing opens a second Joe Momma’s location at 1st Street and Elgin in the heart of the Blue Dome District.
“Downtown will be much more upscale. It’s a brick-oven pizza and open kitchen. The menu is more gourmet and there will be a larger health-food selection. We’re adding a build-your-own pasta section. We’ll get to play with the menu a lot more.
“At lunch, we’re expecting more typical downtown workers who can come get pizza by the slice so they don’t have to be waited on or spend a lot of money. At night, we’re planning to do a really great happy hour menu and we’ll have late-night stuff. We’ll have live bands in on the weekends.”
How Ewing got into the restaurant business is almost a fluke and yet seems to be destiny all rolled into one. He started off waiting tables, like most teens, at the aforementioned Spaghetti Warehouse and Hideaway Pizza.
Later as an employee for a credit card processing company, Ewing handled restaurant accounts, such as McNellie’s and Tsunami Sushi, and often wondered what it would be like to work on the other end of the transactions.
Thought turned to action and soon Ewing was set to lease the building next door to McNellie’s.
“We were planning to go in where The Continental is now, but I got a phone call saying my current place was up for sale,” says Ewing. “So I said, ‘For a whole lot less money and definitely a whole lot less of other people’s money, I can buy this place, learn how to run a restaurant, develop our recipes and make the mistakes I know I’m going to make on a much smaller scale.’”
In the fall of 2005, Joe Momma’s Pizza opened.
In a competitive local market, Joe Momma’s has been able to hold its own and offer Tulsans a quality dining experience. Currently Joe Momma’s serves a well-rounded menu of pizzeria classics and they serve them well.
“A lot of our guys come in and they just want a pepperoni pizza,” says Ewing.
Word-of-mouth advertising does him wonders in the industrial area of east Tulsa, as does being located next door to All Star Sports Complex, a business frequented by area families looking for an affordable meal following a little league baseball game.
Joe Momma’s trademark taste is the crust. Ewing pulled menu influences from different pizzeria’s he had eaten at and put a lot of emphasis and time into perfecting his dough.
“We’re always trying to tweak the process,” says Ewing. “I was in Santa Monica and went to a pizza place near the pier called Wildflour Pizza and thought it was fantastic. I worked at a ski resort in Colorado right out of college and there was a pizza place I liked there. I’ve tried to duplicate those experiences the best I could.”
Tweaking may be needed once the downtown store opens, but for the most part, Joe Momma’s has pizza perfected. The menu covers salads, appetizers and classic pizza combinations. Prices range from $2.50 to $14 for a large specialty pie.
With the title “Head Cheese,” Ewing can likely handle any problem thrown his direction, large or small.
For more information, including a complete Joe Momma’s menu, visit www.joemommaspizzaisgood.com or call (918) 459-0096.