Getting to know your neighbor: Barnstead Pizza is on the rise
Hammer said the former Pizza Glen needed a lot of work when he came in, and the interior carpenter immediately set to work re-inventing the restaurant.
“When we took the pictures off the walls, they were just black. It was so dark, you couldn’t see from one side to the other,” Hammer explained. He painted the walls, added new ceramic fixtures and new carpeting, brought in video game machines, seven new televisions and a pool table and added a banquet room for parties to give the new pizza place a fresh start.
The place was given its name because of its former incarnation as a horse barn, “back in the days when this was all farmland,” Hammer said, gesturing to the commercial strip outside the window.
“If you go up in the attic, you can still see the old rafters. It’s still got those old bones, so it just made sense.”
“He’d worked there for 12 years, but he ran it for a year and just buried it. He just didn’t understand business,” Hammer said. Despite the business’s going south, Hammer said he harbors no ill will toward his former partner. “He’s still my friend. You’ve gotta separate business from pleasure.”
A Collins Center resident with seven business ventures throughout Western New York, Hammer is no stranger to business. He currently works as an independent interior construction contractor, and also owns and operates a karate studio in the Southern Tier, apartment buildings, a trash pick-up service, a bar in Alden, a food stand at the Gentner Auction, a bounce house rental company and Barnstead Pizza.
“Most people sleep a third of their life away,” said Hammer. “I don’t like to waste time like that.”
He first started out in the interior construction business 20 years ago, under the tutelage of his mentor, Frank Salvini.
“He always said that you’ve got to have a goal, where you want to be, find someone who’s doing that and do what they do to get there. He never knew, but he was that person for me,” he said. “He’s a great friend to me and got me into the pizza, carpentry and apartments.”
Following his business sense, Hammer said he bought the pizza place because it “sounded like a good deal” when it came on the market. “Something just falls into my lap and I go for it,” he said. “I’ve been doing everything for [Barnstead Pizza],” he said, adding that a full liquor license is in the works, although the restaurant does have beer and wine available.
“So many people say they don’t know what a fish fry or wings tastes like without a beer,” said Hammer. “I’ve never tasted a beer in my life, so I wouldn’t know, but you’ve really got to have [a bar] to survive in this business.”
In Springville, Hammer said there are 10 locations that sell pizza and Barnstead is “just trying to keep up.
“You do what you have to do to survive,” he said, noting that his most popular items are tacos. “I used to drive to Arcade for a good taco,” he said. “You just couldn’t get them around here.”
A former vegetarian, Hammer said he is dedicated to good food, often driving to Buffalo for a meal. While he says he does not expect people to travel out of their way to get to Barnstead, he does plan to continue to improve the operations at Barnstead to keep his customers happy.
“It’s tough, in a small town. You go past somewhere and it’s all empty, and that’s just part of where you’re located.”
Despite the trials and tribulations of getting the restaurant back on its feet, Hammer said he is not giving up yet. “People like the food, and that’s the bottom line.”
Barnstead Pizza features both take-out and eat-in options, and can be contacted at 592-5100.
The restaurant is open Sunday – Wednesday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.