Williamsburg’s newest restaurant is also one of its most unique.
As the name implies, much of the food at The Brick Oven, especially the pizzas, are prepared in a brick oven towards the back of the store.
Heated with wood inside, the oven reaches temperatures upwards of 500 degrees and pizzas cook in a matter three and one-half to four minutes.
No timers are used as the temperature can fluctuate. Employees eyeball the pizzas to determine when they are ready.
If employees are quick at preparing your food, you could have your pizza in as little as six minutes in an ideal situation.
“What pushed us to go with the brick oven is the uniqueness and the different style of what it is. It is not a traditional style pizza that you get everywhere. When you come in, it has a different flavor, a different quality and a different look. That is what we wanted,” said the younger Jeff Brown, one of two owners of the restaurant.
“The majority of the people like pizza. We figured why not give them something that they like, but it is also different.”
The restaurant’s owners, Jeff Brown and his son, also named Jeff Brown, officially opened their restaurant on Dec. 13 on Main Street near Williamsburg Dry Cleaners.
The younger Jeff Brown said the amount of business the store has been getting is a blessing.
“The first two days we got destroyed. We did more than what we could handle. We weren’t anticipating it at first. I guess it tripled the amount of what was expected,” the younger Brown said. “It has since leveled off for us to where we are getting our peak times and down times. We are blessed.”
When the Browns created the menu for the restaurant, they tried to make sure there was quite a bit of variety knowing not everyone would want pizza.
“We wanted to create something where you could come in and have something different every day that you came in. This is why we have the salads and the soups and our desserts. We have pasta, subs and everything,” the younger Brown said.
In terms of the store’s specialty pizza-wise, the younger Brown said this would probably be between two pizzas, a beef barbecue brisket pizza and a meatball pizza.
“The meatballs are kind of a specialty item that we have for us and so is the brisket. The brisket is actually taken care of through a chef,” the younger Brown said. “Another thing we really take pride in is a house dressing that we carry.”
The restaurant business is something of a change for the older Brown, who previously worked in the sanitation business for more than 40 years.
The younger Brown went into the restaurant industry as soon as he left the Marine Corps, and has done it ever since.
This is the first time he has owned his own restaurant though.
“It has been an adventure I have to say,” the younger Brown noted.
The younger Brown said the biggest lesson he has learned since deciding to open his own restaurant is to be patient, very patient.
“Very few things happen in the time frame that you expect them to happen in. If you are told a week, expect a month and you will be OK,” he said laughingly.
The younger Brown noted that he and his father have been talking about opening a restaurant and planning it for about 18 months, and actually started talking to the owner of the building about nine months ago.
The older Brown noted that his son was the one, who started the conversation about opening a restaurant.
“He presented this to me. We kind of liked the concept and just ran with it,” the older Brown said.
The older Brown, who grew up in Williamsburg, added that this was also a chance for him to get back home.
The older Brown admits that the restaurant business is “interesting,” but so far he is liking it.
“Reception has been great. The experience so far has been really good. I don’t have any complaints,” the older Brown added.
The business currently employees about 19 people, but the younger Jeff Brown anticipates hiring about 10 additional people after the University of the Cumberlands students return for the spring semester, and to keep his staff about 30 people.
The family hopes to make their Williamsburg location the first of a chain, and plans to open a second store in London.
It will likely be a slightly larger restaurant than the Williamsburg location employing about 40 – 50 people.
“That is our plan,” the younger Jeff Brown said laughingly. “We are hoping the good Lord above willing.”
He said the decision to pick Williamsburg for the location largely came down to Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison.
“Roddy treated us just like family the first moment that he spoke to us. When we reached out to him and mentioned we were trying to decide between London, Corbin and here, he didn’t talk down about the other ones, but more so on why he would love for us to be here,” the younger Brown said.
“Ever since he was a phone call away. He answered, talked, and did everything he could to help us. He put us in touch with some great people. One thing lead to the next and here we are.”
The restaurant is truly a family affair.
Jeffery Brown, who is the grandson of the older Jeff Brown and the son of the younger Jeff Brown, also works at the restaurant.