Popular wood-fired pizza restaurant is expanding. Here’s where
Until now, Fat Zach’s Wood Fired Pizza has operated on wheels, but the Puyallup mobile restaurant is expanding this month. Fat Zach’s will open its first brick-and-mortar pizza restaurant in the next week or so at a newly built restaurant space in the warehouse district in Sumner. UPDATE: As of March 6, 2020, this restaurant is now open!
The restaurant will be at 2160 136th Ave. E. Sumner. That’s just off the West Valley Highway/24th Street Exit on State Route 167.
Check the restaurant’s social media for more details on the opening timeline, but so long as permits are approved as expected, they intend to open in a matter of days.
I remember writing about Fat Zach’s in 2018 when Zach and Shanna Johns opened their mobile restaurant equipped with a Forno Bravo wood-fired pizza oven across from Anthem in downtown Puyallup. At that time, Zach Johns considered the idea of a brick-and-mortar restaurant enticing, but jumping into a stationary space seemed equally daunting. Fat Zach’s was the first restaurant of any kind for Johns, although his brother is a chef and helped him with the concept and opening.
Zach Johns previously was an insurance salesman with a passion for baking pizza in his backyard pizza oven, and a dream to open his own spot. He did just that in the summer of 2018 and expansion came in 2019 when the couple added a second trailer for catering. They started building out the Sumner space in October.
It does feel early to expand this quickly, but Shanna Johns said it’s the right opportunity at the right time.
“Really early into it we had a lot of people wanting to invest and property owners saying they had the space. We were flattered and surprised. A lot of that was enticing, but none of the locations felt right and we were still trying to get dialed in on the mobile game,” she said.
She added, “It was the school of hard knocks for us.” They were learning on the fly, she said (and still are). “We respectfully had to say no to cool opportunities. About a year ago, a very good friend of ours who is a developer and owns several properties reached out and said, ‘I have this space. I’ve been praying on it and I feel it would be a good home for Fat Zach’s.”
“It felt really right,” she said.
The space is in an unexpected location at a truck stop with an adjacent mini mart and fuel station. The building that will house Fat Zach’s is brand new. Few restaurants are in the area other than Brank’s BBQ. “The time we’ve spent down there, we knew there was a need,” said Johns. “They want more food options. This is going to help us hit another kind of clientele.”
The atmosphere at the Sumner location will focus on dine-in customers, but also will cater on take-out eaters with online ordering and they’ll also work with Uber Eats and other third-party delivery apps.
The dining room will have television screens for diners who want to catch a game. They just applied for a liquor permit, so expect a menu of beer and wine to come in the next few months. The space will seat more than 60 with seating for parties of two, four and more. There’s also counter seating for solo diners.
Just as with the Fat Zach’s mobile Forno Bravo pizza oven, the Forno Bravo oven at Fat Zach’s in Sumner will cook pizza just as quickly – in as little as 90 seconds.
One difference in the pizza oven is that it won’t be exclusively fueled by wood like the Forno Bravo of their mobile operation. That’s due to the fire code and regulations in the building. “We’ll have gas assistance for the Forno Bravo oven,” she said. “That was hard for us. Gas adds a different time of cooking, different heat levels. For us, we love the wood flavor on the brick deck.”
She added, “We’ll use the gas assist to start the fire every morning, but we’ll have fruitwood to cook the pizza.” As with the oven for their mobile operation, they intend to stick to apple and cherry wood to cook their pies.
Expect a menu expansion at the Sumner location. They’ll still offer the 10-inch pizzas (cut into eight slices) that built their business. To that, they’re adding wings, salad and more desserts in Sumner. “We’ll have all our usual pies, but we’ll also have wings with three flavors – hot, barbecue and Italian. We’ll do three salads – garden, Caesar and a caprese.”
For gluten-free diners, Fat Zach’s offers a gluten-free crust. Vegetarian diners have more than a few choices. Vegetarian diners – be sure to check out the No Big Dill, the vegetarian pie with a ranch-style sauce, dill pickles, dill weed and cheese.
She said they also plan to have a grab-and-go cooler for salads and beverages. At the Puyallup location, Fat Zach’s added cannoli and they have offered dessert pies. The Sumner location will have more desserts. “We’ll have something called Sugar Mama, which is pizza dough with melted butter and cinnamon and sugar. It’s our take on an elephant ear. We’ll have a massive brownie with vanilla bean ice cream.”
The pricing sounds like it’s in the sweet spot for family dining. “We’re going to have all pies for $12, no matter what is on them. We’re going to have a combo option with a pie and a drink and half a salad or breadsticks for $14. We’ll also have a two-for-$20 everyday deal. That’s two pies for $20.”
Diners might note that the building is equipped with a drive-thru. About that. Johns said they are toying with the idea of a drive-thru pizza. They haven’t quite worked out the details, but as Johns said, “We’d love to pioneer drive-thru pizza.”
FAT ZACH’S WOOD FIRED PIZZA
New Sumner location: 2160 136th Ave. E., Sumner. Opening March 2020
Downtown Puyallup location: 203 W. Pioneer, Puyallup; 253-328-3415. Open Tuesdays-Saturdays.
SPEAKING OF PIZZA, DID YOU HEAR ABOUT PUGET SOUND PIZZA?
Did you hear that Puget Sound Pizza is also expanding? The popular pizza restaurant in Tacoma’s St. Helens neighborhood is opening a second location. Here are the details.