Gargantuan Emporium is the newest addition to Thomas - a pizza place opened late last year by a pair of brothers who are seeking the perfect pie.
Young entrepreneurs Evan and Ian Boury, both 23, intended to open the Emporium on the final day of October, but when Superstorm Sandy struck town they were immediately set back. On Nov. 6, however, Evan Boury said the new business was officially opened to the public.
The pair is from Pittsburgh, said Evan Boury, in an interview with The Inter-Mountain. The brothers scouted different areas for possible locations for their pizza place and Thomas stood out as the obvious choice.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Casey Houser
A pie is tended in the wood-fired oven at the Gargantuan Emporium by Evan Boury. Boury established the Thomas pizza place with his brother, Ian Boury, in November 2012.
"Both of us found our self worth by extending ourselves in this area," Evan Boury said. "It's more calm (in Thomas). It seemed like the logical choice."
He said he enjoys the atmosphere that is created from the town and the people who live in and visit the area.
"It's a big playground here," he said, noting the seemingly enless possibilities for outdoor recreation such as skiing, hiking and camping.
It hasn't been all fun and games for the brothers, though.
"We weren't able to get a loan," Evan Boury said.
The brothers' credit history, he said, was nonexistent. That made it hard for them to get startup money.
So, they turned to other monetary sources and investigated every possible way to cut costs.
Funds ultimately, he said, came from their own pockets, as well as the pockets of their parents. And all the furniture in the Emporium was purchased from local antique stores.
The used furniture gives the restaurant a well-worn look. During Evan Boury's interview with the Inter-Mountain, this look was accompanied by the smooth sounds of live, acoustic Nirvana being played through a pair of speakers nestled near the rear of the dining room.
It is the ambiance, the open nature of the Emporium that is most inviting to customers, said Evan Boury.
Every part of the restaurant, aside from the brick oven, is located in a central room.
Tables and chairs of all sorts surround a long bar which houses the cash register and food preparation station.
Dough is rolled and toppings are placed before the eyes and ears of customers. Evan Boury said this inviting style leads to stimulating conversation and learning opportunities for staff and customers.
"Conversations can go in any direction," he said.
Often, the focus is on the brothers as young business owners. He said the community is largely happy to see the pair taking advantage of the area.
Once, he said, a customer engaged Evan Boury in a discussion about gluten. He was able to teach the customer about the nature of gluten and he said it was enlightening for them both.
"That's the most rewarding part," he said, "getting to teach others."
Pizzas are baked in an oven that was hand built by the brothers, Evan Boury said. It is made out of approximately two tons of materials, including cement, brick, stucco and insulation. The style is a mix between traditional Tuscan and Neopolitan oven styles.
It is located in a tight outside alleyway between the Emporium and the building to its left.
"We keep the fire rolling all day," Evan Boury said. "It's interesting, the dynamic of the oven - it's like a living person."
Evan Boury baked a pizza during part of his interview.
A wood-burning stove, flaming logs can be seen from the mouth of the oven. The pizza was placed directly on the same surface as the coals, and necessary, constant attention was paid to the pie. It was turned and manipulated over half a dozen times during a period of less than five minutes.
Evan Boury said that pies often can bake completely in a matter of minutes, noting the temperature of the oven as having the potential to reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes the baking process an active endeavor, to ensure consistency to each pie.
Concerning his food stuffs and the business as a whole, Evan Boury had one encompassing question.
"Is it sustainable?" he asked.
He wants to work with local farmers to procure vegetables and milk and meat products so that local businesses can continue to thrive.
"Business owners (in Thomas) care about each other," he said.
Evan Boury mentioned Tip Top and The Purple Fiddle as two examples of business with which he closely works. He said that customers will be steered from the Emporium to Tip Top, for example, when he knows that his own business has a long wait or no available tables.
It is cooperation, not competition, that will help their businesses thrive, he said.
In the future, Evan Boury said he wants to increase the amount of food served, such as breaking into the market of sandwiches. For now, though, the menu is limited largely to pizza and calzones.
He wants to reach out to local artists and hopes to provide space on his walls for their artwork, so he can sell it without the addition of a sales commission.
Live musical acts are also on the horizon, he said. But that ambition, he expects, will be a delicate balancing act between his own business and The Purple Fiddle, which also hosts live shows.
"I tell people to remove all their expectations," Evan Boury said, in summation. "We aren't your average pizza place."
Contact Casey Houser by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.