Around the turn of the century, two sisters lived at 213 N. Trade Street, manning the switchboards for the local phone company. By 1954, the phone company needed a place for their dial-up equipment and that same piece of real estate found new life. But, after falling into disrepair for many subsequent years, that life was resurrected this year in the form of The Exchange Pizza Depot.
“There’s plenty of room in town for (all of us). If my pizza is (good), they won’t be going elsewhere.
Enter Brendan Ciganek, former pizza shop franchisee owner and chef and a “friend of a friend of the owner.”
Hired to run the new pizza place (as adjunct to the owners’ next-door wine room, Seaboard), Brendan has found his “slice of the woods” in this business housed in the 14’x22’ foot building he can nearly call his own.
In addition to a staple of mostly Neapolitan-style pizzas (two of which are named after the owner’s daughters), Brendan has been free to not only write the menu, design the space and hire the staff, but to experiment with ideas and foods from around the world.
Pollo Con Crema (chicken, onion, bell pepper, tangy creamy sauce), Heatza (Cajun chicken, spicy red sauce, jalapeños, Sriracha drizzle), Tomato Pesto (with roasted brussels sprouts, red onion, sun-dried tomatoes), and Mashed Potato (with mixed cheese, bacon and garlic butter), Tikka Masala (tomato, cream, curry) are just a few of his many personal creations.
“I asked friends what they were eating,” he said,” got ideas from vendors at the Farmer’s Market and from international cuisines. He asked the employees who work there, patrons and his online friends, as well.
“My regular menu is a crowd pleaser,” he says, adding that the weekly (or so) special pizzas “may not be for everyone but are (a chance) to have fun with and appeal to some people.”
Among his special touches are tomatoes and flour from Italy, buffalo milk cheese and some regular produce from the Farmer’s Market. In addition, he grows basil and a few other things around the two restaurants.
And, as Matthews continues to grow and pizza competition gets even more heated, he said he’ll stick to what he believes:“There’s plenty of room in town for (all of us). If my pizza is (good), they won’t be going elsewhere.”
Exchange Pizza Depot
213 N. Trade Street, Matthews
Monday thru Wednesday: 5 PM - 9 PM
Thursday thru Sunday: 12 PM - 10 PM