After closing in September due to staffing challenges, Stone’s Throw Pizza will reopen on Ferry Road in Charlotte. The tentative date is Tuesday, Jan. 30.
The self-described “gourmet pizzeria” will have the same name but a new owner. A local entrepreneur, Leyland Papa, reached a licensing agreement with the trio that founded the chain, which has locations in Fairfax, Richmond and Waterbury, with another coming soon in Jericho.
“I reached out to the owners and said, ‘Hey, what can we do to keep this place open?’” Papa said.
According to Papa, Vermont’s labor shortage affected all four restaurants last year, but the Charlotte location sits more than a stone’s throw — so to speak — from the others, which caused problems for the owners when they needed to fill in for workers. Because Papa lives in Charlotte, however, he can show up as needed. Having “a better finger on the pulse of the community,” he believes, may also help him in hiring locals.
“As far as people buying pizza, the cost of the pizza, the quality of the pizza, I would hope everything is exactly the same,” Papa said.
Papa bought another small business last year, which he operates himself: Trashaway, a waste collector serving Charlotte, Shelburne and Hinesburg. But in an interview with The Charlotte News, he described a background primarily in the wine industry, with managerial experience in retail and dining in Manhattan.
“I pretty quickly realized that I have a good palate,” he said. “I enjoy going through the motions with people of exploring their palate, being able to kind of guide them places.”
A native of Chelsea, Vt., Papa wanted to open a wine store of his own in New York City but “ran into a lot of walls there.” While caring for his ailing mother in Caledonia County, he began to consider business ownership in the Green Mountain State.
“I was like, ‘You know, I really love Vermont, and I don’t know why I haven’t been looking here for opportunities,’” he recollected.
Papa found out about Stone’s Throw through Trashaway.
“I’m going around picking up people’s trash in Charlotte, and I see all the Stone’s Throw boxes. I mean, clients will have five, six, seven boxes a week,” he said.
Papa has already leased the property. Last year, by his account, a mandatory “wastewater update” contributed to the restaurant’s closure, but now the building is ready to go.
“Where I’m going to be creative or put my mark on the business is going to be in, hopefully, the beverage program,” Papa said.
On Jan. 8, the Charlotte Selectboard approved his application for a liquor license.
“I hope it opens as soon as possible,” selectboard member Lewis Mudge added.