Outgrowing their previous location on West Long Avenue, Firehouse Pizzeria owners, Jim and Geni Whited, have relocated their successful, traditional Italian restaurant just a few blocks away and deeper into the heart of downtown DuBois.
Opening today for carry-out and delivery options only, Firehouse Family Restaurant will start serving dine-in customers Wednesday in their new location at 208 W. Long Ave., the former Doc G’s Brewing Company.
“We started looking last fall for a new place. We thought we just needed to grow,” said Jim Whited. “We wanted to become more of a family-style restaurant and offer more than the traditional pizza shop and beer options. That’s why we’re stepping it up a little bit in here.”
Speaking of beer, that is something that will not be available at Firehouse despite the fact that a bar is already present in the building.
“We want a family restaurant. We want a place where kids feel welcome,” said Whited. “At the bar, we’re going to change it over to an old-fashioned soda and ice cream fountain. I just got a computerized mix machine. We’re going to do ‘mocktails’ in it, but we can also make iced coffee or smoothies.”
There are plans to add a large private dining and banquet room for parties in the portion of the building which used to contain the brewery.
The family-friendly restaurant, featuring the same fire department-themed decorations and equipment, will continue to offer its popular pizza, pasta and buffets, in addition to adding other homemade dishes. Eventually, Whited said they will add steak and seafood to the menu as well.
“Geni is excited because her kitchen is so much bigger and her passion is baking,” said Whited. “That is where her heart is and she will be able to make all of her cakes that she has become famous for and all kinds of other desserts.”
Whited said he is very excited because his business, which opened in February of 2014, is growing. He hopes to hire at least 12 more employees over the next several months.
Whited, who has been a volunteer firefighter for nearly 40 years, said a lot of his restaurant’s business comes from firefighters and their families, including responders from the Ridgway, Johnsonburg and Punxsutawney areas.
“When you are a part of the community, it’s important to give back to it,” he said.
The items on the wall, including fire and EMS uniforms and equipment like helmets, boots and masks, are part of Whited’s own personal collection. Over the years, it has become a hobby for him to collect fire rescue and responder apparel.
Prior to owning Firehouse, Whited bought a small concession trailer to teach his two teenagers at the time about business. Eventually, he and Geni purchased a larger travel trailer and started working at fairs. Then they decided to open a “mom and pop pizza shop” which has grown into Firehouse Family Restaurant.
It’s a lot of work, but Whited said, “I just have to be busy. I have an entrepreneurial spirit.”