Patrick and Katie McHugh have been in the pizza business for 19 years, but their restaurant has ties that stretch back far longer. It was originally 14th St. Pizza when they purchased it in January of 2004. The Henry County restaurant moved from Hudson Bridge Road to Jodeco Road in 2010 and then to its current location on Jonesboro Road in October of 2022.
“We are the oldest continuously run pizza restaurant in Henry County,” said Patrick. “I think we’ve been successful because of our core values: Family, Honesty, Outstanding Service, and Community.”
15th St. Pizza & Pub is a family-owned and operated business. Both Patrick and Katie have long histories in the hospitality industry, and they love working in restaurants and kitchens. Patrick got his start busing tables in a pancake restaurant at the age of 14, worked at Schlotzky’s in high school, and worked in the kitchen of Steak and Ale while in college at Florida State University. He briefly worked in hotels, but he and his wife soon found their way back to restaurants. In November of 2003 they were helping at 14th St. Pizza and by January of 2004, they owned it.
Owning a pizza place presented the couple with a bit of a learning curve, but they went to PizzaExpo in Las Vegas, learned the science behind pizza, and got a better understanding of how to cook pizza and how much fun they could have. Just a quick glance at the menu shows the possibilities are endless when it comes to making pizza. For instance, the Wine and Cheese Pizza, an Explore Georgia award winner, has a wine and cheese sauce base, grilled chicken, provolone cheese, and bacon. It gets topped with fresh tomato and lettuce after baking. Patrons are also fans of the Pickle Pizza, which features a creamy garlic base, pickle slices, mozzarella cheese, and a dusting of dill weed.
“Both of those pizzas came from our Pizza Madness promotion, which coincides with March Madness every year,” said Patrick. “We offer 16 off-the-wall pizzas, people vote for their favorites on social media, and the winner of our tournament makes it on the menu for a year. Some, like the Pickle, or the Texan, are so popular they’ve become permanent fixtures.”
Is it the crazy combinations that are such a draw? Patrick feels the draw is the freshness of the ingredients. The restaurant has a one-door freezer and is only for items like French fries, tater tots, and pretzels. The vegetables are all hand-selected by Patrick and Katie at the state farmers market in Forest Park twice a week. The sauces are made in-house, and Patrick is hoping all of the bread and desserts will be made in-house by the end of the year.
“The ingredients are fresh and as local as possible,” said Patrick. “Our customers expect a good meal, and we provide it.”
The menu for 15th St. Pizza & Pub is extensive and offers something for everyone.
“A family may come in with one person wanting a salad, another wanting a burger or sandwich, and the kids wanting to split a pizza,” said Patrick. “They can all leave satisfied.”
Guests of 15th St. Pizza & Pub are also satisfied with the outstanding craft beer selection. Patrick and Katie wanted the restaurant to be “the craft beer bar” of Henry County and worked to establish good relationships with the vendors to make it happen. They try to spotlight local breweries as often as they can while also introducing patrons to some of the top selections from out of state.
“I believe we are the best craft beer bar south of I-20,” said Patrick. “Our relationships with different breweries and vendors allow us to get exclusive and very limited products. We update our beer menu regularly so people can see what we’re pouring.”
The new location for 15th St. Pizza & Pub has allowed the restaurant to have better parking, a fantastic, dog-friendly patio, and, most importantly, a Pizza Master oven that can cook 80-90 pizzas an hour, as opposed to the 24 an hour their last oven could cook. The new oven will also make it possible for some new creations to be cooked, including bread, desserts, and dishes like Braised Short Rib Pasta.
Patrick and Katie are proud of their restaurant and the many regulars they feel fortunate enough to call their friends.
“We believe it is our responsibility to give back and take care of those who take care of us,” said Patrick. “When we see an opportunity to give back to our community, especially when it strengthens our neighbors and their families, we make every effort to do so.”
The list of local nonprofits and charities that 15th St. Pizza & Pub has supported is long. Some examples are donating food to A Friends House, feeding kids every Thanksgiving and stocking pantries and refrigerators when they can, sponsoring numerous golf tournaments and events that raise money for schools, camps, medical research, equipment purchases for police, and more.
Patrick, Katie, and the entire staff of 15th St. Pizza & Pub (32 people at last count) are thrilled with their new location and are offering the same top-notch quality and outstanding service they have prided themselves on since the beginning. Patrick knows that they will only keep improving as he learns all his new oven can do and keeps concocting fun recipes with fresh ingredients.
“Anything can be a pizza,” proclaimed Patrick.
His customers tend to agree.
By Mike Boylan