O4W Pizza opens Friday July 1 in Duluth

Owner Anthony Spina talks about his new location and transitioning out of Atlanta
O4W Pizza
Photograph by Evan Mah

At the beginning of the month, O4W Pizza shocked Atlanta when it announced that it was leaving Irwin Street to focus on an upcoming restaurant in Duluth. Even though the restaurant only opened in early 2015, Anthony Spina’s Grandma Pie quickly gained traction as one of the best in the city. At just 400-square foot, the restaurant was constantly overwhelmed and was regularly out of dough. His new location at 3117 Main St. is four times the space. Below, Spina shares his thoughts on his transition to Duluth.

How’s the transition to Duluth been? This place is pretty different from Atlanta.
It’s different, but the same reception from Atlanta. A lot of people are really anticipating it. We’re doing table service instead of counter service, and we have a lot of space. We didn’t have a lot down there, and here we can be a bit more creative.

So you’re relieved to have more room?
Yeah, but you know what? Right now we have six times more space, and we’re still looking for more. The menu expanded, and we added more people. Even if I had a thousand more square feet, I’d probably be looking for more. But if we made it work in that 400-square foot space, we can make it work anywhere.

It’s a big leap to go from Irwin Street, right by Krog Street Market, to Duluth.
This area, this Downtown area, is the same kind of feel as Irwin street. You’ve got people in the neighborhood walking around. I see a lot of faces from Irwin Street down here, too. A lot of our lunch customers live out here. We’ve been doing soft openings, and I’ve seen maybe 10 to 15 percent of the people coming in are people that have already been here.

You really got a great reception at Irwin Street. Any thoughts about going back to Atlanta?
The location was definitely great and towards the end we definitely built a good rapport with the locals. We had people coming from everywhere. It was more of a destination place. I’m hoping we get the same reception here. As soon as we get this thing up and running, my first mental idea is go find another place down there. I’m definitely not trying to be gone from downtown for that long. If I have to find a pizza truck and park on the weekends, that’s what I’ll do.

Do you have anything in mind?
I’m looking, but I’ve got to get this open first.

What are you hoping to bring to this area?
When we opened downtown, we opened on the BeltLine. We joined the process. It’s cool to be a part of something, but it’s cooler to create something. Here, we’re making our own vibe instead of joining the vibe that’s already there.

Downtown Duluth has been stagnant for the past few years. Restaurants and business came and went, and people lost interest. Now it looks like everybody is getting excited again.
When I picked this place, the only thing I really knew about it was Eddie Owen. I didn’t know about this place, but I knew about him from Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, so I knew some of the history. I figured if it was across the street from a music venue, it’s gotta be good.

How was the reception from the City of Duluth?
They’re great. They’re very, very helpful. They’re trying to build it. Like you said, it’s been kind of stagnant. It’s had ups and downs, but now once they broke ground over at Dreamland [BBQ], it’s been full force. It feels like Mayberry in the middle of Central Park. We sit out on the porch at night, and we’ve got people coming by and talking to us. Instead of being part of something, we’re creating something where people want to come and hang out. We’re bigger than just a little slice shop. We have room to grow.

Anything you want to say about leaving Atlanta?
I got some things to say, but I’m just not ready yet. It’s been rough for me because that’s where I started. I’ve got a lot of love from people down there, and they think, “He just took off.” It’s not the case, but I’m just not ready yet.