There's a new pizza joint in town and it's run by a couple of local wise guys. Literally.
Wise Guys Restaurant, located at 271 Wood Street (the former location of Sub Station) is run by Bristol resident Mike Jodoin and Warren resident Shawn Coelho. While these guys may not be straight out of Goodfellas or The Godfather, the theme and slogan for their new restaurant sure hits the mob-scene nail on the head.
"I really liked the mafia theme," Jodoin said acknowledging that the restaurant's slogan, "You come to us or we're comin' to you," is sure to make anyone smirk. "The style seemed pretty unique in this area, which also fits with our unique menu."
Apart from Wise Guys' obvious menu items like calzones, subs and pasta, the restaurant also serves up an extensive specialty pizza list, which Jodoin says, makes Wise Guys stand out among other local pizzerias.
"Our second biggest seller is The Portuguese Mafia pizza," he said, which is chourico, ground linguica and french fries topped onto your pizza. Specialties also include "The Big Guy" in which pizza meets macaroni and cheese with shaved steak, The Little Italy, in which Italian favorites collide with pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, and "The Big Texan" which is topped with BBQ chicken, bacon and onion.
The main battle these wise guys are facing is not a shortage of new ideas to improve their menu, but for more people to try them out.
"I don't think people know we're here," Jodoin said, noting that getting the word out about the new business has been difficult, even in such a tight-knit community full of locals and college students.
"There is a great market in Bristol and we've had some locals come in and not realize that Sub Station was gone and that we did a complete restoration on the entire restaurant," Jodoin said. "But getting people to come in the door to try our food has been the hardest thing."
Jodoin and Coelho point out that Wise Guys is not only locally friendly, but has also begun accepting the Roger Williams University "Uni-Card" to bring students in to experience the menu.
Other than getting the restaurant's name out there, Jodoin and Coelho say they face the same struggles as any small business owner. But Jodoin and Coelho may have a bit more on their plate than an average small business owner. In addition to running the restaurant, Jodoin says he works 50 to 60 hours per week with his company, MJ Masonry, located in Bristol. Coelho says he also maintains a full-time work schedule outside of Wise Guys.
So why take on another job? Jodoin says being self-employed can be very rewarding in many ways, but at 38-years-old he fears that there is no retirement in his future without going into another business venture.
"I'm self employed at MJ Masonry so I have to do as much as I can at 38 years old because in another 15 years there won't be anything for me," Jodoin said. "The residual income from this will hopefully help me in retirement."
"Plus, this is fun," he added. "The fun part is spending time like Friday nights in here joking around with the customers. That is what I love."
Looking forward, Jodoin and Coelho hope to gain a regular customer base and want the Wise Guys brand to grow into a multiple location restaurant.
Wise Guys is open every day (except for Monday) from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and can be reached by calling 253-WISE.