The owner of Nomad Pizza, the Hopewell-based eatery specializing in pizza made in wood-fired ovens, has signed a lease to take over the former Amoco gas station at Princeton Shopping Center. Tom Grim, one of two owners of the company, said this week that he expects to have the pizzeria up and running in about a year.
“We are very excited,” he said. “We haven’t completely fleshed it out, but we won’t change much from what we have in Hopewell. We will have more seating, though, with an outdoor patio. And we may have two ovens instead of one.”
A representative of Eden’s, the company that owns Princeton Shopping Center, confirmed that Nomad had signed the lease, but declined to comment further.
Mr. Grim knows Princeton well. He was the co-founder of Thomas Sweet ice cream in 1980, running the business until he sold it in 2008. With business partner Stalin Bedon, Mr. Grim changed his focus to pizza, starting Nomad out of a 1949 REO Speedwagon truck complete with a wood-burning oven imported from Italy. The truck is still used for private parties and other events. The Hopewell restaurant opened in 2010. Two locations in Philadelphia, called Nomad and Nomad Roman, are also in operation.
Preparing the Princeton Shopping Center location will take a year because floors at the old Amoco station need to be ripped up and the roof will be replaced. “A lot of work has to be done before they hand it over,” Mr. Grim said. “Then there’s the whole approval process to get through. But that’s fine with me. We anticipate getting in there around June or July, and then a few months more until we open.”
Mr. Grim anticipates hiring about 40 people to work in different shifts. Nomad specializes in wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, not sold by the slice. “This is the kind of pizza you see in Italy,” he said. “Pizza we make isn’t designed to be eaten by the slice. We use farm-to-table ingredients, and great dough that takes a long time to make. It’s a four-day process. That gives the flavors time to develop. Some things are better fresh, and dough isn’t one of them.”
Emphasizing that Nomad is “not a restaurant, it’s a pizzeria,” Mr. Grim said a few more items will be available but pizza will be the entree. The restaurant will make it’s own mozzarella.
The partners started Nomad in Hopewell after people who had sampled the pizza from the truck started asking where they could get it on a regular basis. “We took over this little place in Hopewell. It was just a shack,” Mr. Grim said. “The original idea was to be open three days a week, but we’ve been so busy that we’re now open six days. But never for lunch.”
In Princeton, however, Mr. Grim anticipates being open just for dinner at first, gradually adding lunch on weekends and eventually during the week. The former gas station’s existing garage door will be replaced, but the pizzeria will still have “a garage look,” Mr. Grim said.
Having celebrated his fourth year at the Hopewell location, which gets busier each year, Mr. Grim is looking forward to similar success in Princeton. “I think we’ll do well in Princeton. The shopping center is an institution. And there’s parking, which is becoming precious in town.”