By: Jenny B. Davis
Chimera Brewing Co., the Near Southside pizza joint and brewery on West Magnolia Avenue founded by Carlo Galotto in 2011, has changed hands.
Entrepreneurs Will Churchill and Corrie Watson, who fostered the latest transformation of the Near Southside's West Magnolia Avenue by buying several buildings and remaking them with new tenants like Heim Barbecue (Churchill and Watson became business partners with Heim) and Melt Ice Creams, have purchased the assets of the company that held Chimera, 1001 W. Magnolia Ave., Churchill confirmed in an interview Tuesday.
They closed the business from Monday through Friday last week and re-opened Saturday, bringing in a larger pizza oven and other new equipment, simplifying the menu, and adding management with a new general manager, Mike Armstrong, the operations director at Billy Bob's Texas. Galotto will stay on to manage the kitchen, and other employees are staying, including the brewer and the head pizza dough maker, Churchill said. The business has about 15 employees.
Churchill and Watson will manage the business' federal and state licenses over the next 90 days, when they'll take over the licenses. "At that point, you'll see a complete rebranding process," Churchill said. Asked if that means he and Watson will rename the business, he said, "there's a solid chance." The current name is confusing, and many potential customers outside the Southside don't realize it's a brewery, he said.
Chimera is known for its beer and pizza, but had been struggling.
"Carlo came to us and was looking for a partner," Churchill said. "He does a great job making pizza, and he does a great job making beer. But he just ran out of fuel on the capital side, and he needed help on the management side. They just needed some direction and some management. We brought the missing link."
"We are pleased for a number of reasons, for our employees and our community," Galotto's wife Beth Wild, who works with him in the business, said. "Carlo's dream of a neighborhood pub, brewery and pizzeria is in good hands."
The asset purchase includes the business name, fixtures, and web sites. It does not include the 5,000-square-foot building, owned by a Dallas investor.
Churchill said he and Watson were drawn first by the request from Galotto. "Someone comes to us and asks for our assistance; we want to do that" if possible, he said. "Then to have the only brewery on West Magnolia is a really cool deal."
Churchill and Watson, during the temporary closure, replaced the pizza oven with a substantially larger one that enables the restaurant to churn out pizzas in a much shorter period; service time was a problem for customers, Churchill said.
"The old pizza oven could only hold eight pies; the new one holds 48 pies," Armstrong said. That cuts service time to four to five minutes from eight to 10, he said. Saturday, when the restaurant re-opened "we were able to get pizzas out in record time."
The restaurant re-opened with only pizza, beer, salads and "bar bites." Gone are the tacos, sandwiches, brunch, pasta and dishes containing nuts.
"At the end of the day, we want to do two things really well: pizza and beer," Churchill said. He also expects the restaurant to begin making its own root beer, in the tradition of Midwestern brewpubs, Churchill said.
Churchill and Watson will lever their other businesses on the street to take advantage of the Chimera addition. "We will start using some Heim protein on the pizzas," Churchill said.
Churchill and Watson had been contemplating adding pizza as a menu item at their Kent & Co. Wines, also on West Magnolia, but that would have required costly changes to the building and could have affected parking, Churchill said. Kent & Co. will now add pizza from Chimera to its menu, he said.
Churchill and Watson may also add a walk-up pizza window to the building's streetfront, and is having 97w, a Fort Worth architecture firm and frequent collaborator on the Churchill-Watson buildings, look at what's possible, given the building's historic designation, Churchill said.
By: Jenny B. Davis