Words & Deeds

This new Meridian restaurant just closed because it was too popular. It lasted 4 days.

There’s no dining area inside Johnny Bronx Pizza in Meridian, but outdoor seating is on the way.
There’s no dining area inside Johnny Bronx Pizza in Meridian, but outdoor seating is on the way. Johnny Bronx Pizza

When Johnny Bronx Pizza co-owner Judah DeVilbiss opened his new restaurant Monday, he expected excitement.

But not this much excitement.

Overwhelmed by ravenous customers craving New York-style slices, Johnny Bronx has temporarily shut down at 4970 N. Linder Road in Meridian — after 3 1/2 days in business.

The drive-thru and walk-up pizzeria has racked up six times the number of orders DeVilbiss and co-owner Matt Brown predicted. “It’s just been crazy,” DeVilbiss says.

He decided to close at about 1 p.m. Thursday. They plan to regroup, come up with a plan and reopen soon. An update video will be posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page by Friday.

“I can’t keep up with demand,” DeVilbiss admits. “It’s a great problem to have. But we’ve literally been climbing every single day.”

The 9- or 10-person staff blew through nearly 1,360 slices Wednesday, DeVilbiss says, and was sold out by 7 p.m.

On Thursday, the madness started early again. “We made it through 30 pies already this morning, and by 1 o’clock, I looked up, and I said, ‘I can’t.’ I’m staying up till 4 or 5 in the morning, taking a nap and getting up at 7, preparing and starting my day up again.”

Even with friends and family making mid-day supply runs, the restaurant has been crushed, he says.

“We had no dough. I was out of pepperoni last night. ... I don’t even know how many subs we went through and ice cream sandwiches. It was nonstop.”

An opening-day Idaho Statesman article — “New restaurant opens with NY-style pizza. And homemade ice-cream sandwiches? Uh-oh” — didn’t help. Or actually helped too much. “We had people drive all the way from Boise for the ice-cream sandwiches the day you posted that,” DeVilbiss says.

Unfortunately, the madhouse climate has resulted in service issues.

“People have to wait, 15, 20 minutes for slices of pie, and I don’t want that,” he says. “I want people to be happy with their experience here.”

There’s at least one slice of good news: DeVilbiss says Johnny Bronx Pizza has been getting positive reviews from East Coast transplants. “This makes me miss home,” he says a customer from the Bronx told him.

That dude is going to be missing more than home for a few days — or until whenever Johnny Bronx returns.

“We wanted to be a slow, steady start-up,” DeVilbiss says, letting out a tired chuckle. “It’s been the opposite of that.”

Online: facebook.com/johnnybronxpizza.

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