3rd Street Pizzeria: All about family

Published 8:05 am Monday, November 22, 2010

Brad Bauer and Kim Waldrop of 3rd Street Pizzeria keep the business in the family along with Bauer’s parents, brother, sister and uncle Richard Moore.

Brad Bauer and Kim Waldrop of 3rd Street Pizzeria keep the business in the family along with Bauer’s parents, brother, sister and uncle Richard Moore.

Brad Bauer had never really considered going into business for himself.

The Niles native worked for Ameriwood in Dowagiac for more than 20 years and most recently for Tyler Refrigeration.

Out of work after Tyler closed down, Bauer was looking for work. His uncle, Richard Moore, had a proposition.

Moore had made a name for himself in the pizza business for more than 20 years, having opened up the original Pine Lake Pizza and a number of stores after that.

Moore had just bought back the restaurant space on Third Street and was interested in recruiting his nephew to start a new business that would honor some old traditions and time-honored recipes with a new generation at the helm and a new name — 3rd Street Pizzeria.

Bauer enlisted his brother, Rob as a partner and eagerly accepted the lead role in the next chapter of the family business.

“We were like, this feels too good, let’s do it,” Bauer said of the discussion he had with his brother and sister about taking on the business. “We just love it. It’s a family thing.”

3rd Street Pizzeria officially opened in September and the reception, Bauer said, has been warm.

Customers who remember his uncle’s business have been flowing back in through the front door, into an old-style pizzeria with an open kitchen, countertops and stools where customers can feast on pizza by the slice. The restaurant’s dining room is also a mixture of the old and the new.

A wall mural depicts the look of old Italy while the table tops are covered not in the expected white and red checkered pattern rather the blue and gold colors of  the Niles Vikings.

Bauer has been studying under his uncle to learn the business inside and out. Cooking, cleaning, serving and delivering pizzas to customers throughout the area, he said he’s learning every aspect of the business.

“I make a real pretty pizza,” he said.

Those pizzas are being made with a very special, very secret set of ingredients that Moore has been using for more than 20 years, now passed on to the Bauers, making their pizza distictive to 3rd Street Pizzeria.

“It gives it a little kick,” he said. “We’re doing everythign the way my uncle has done it.”

“Everything is quality ingredients,” said Bauer’s girlfriend Kim Waldrop who along with his parents, sister and Moore, helps out in every aspect of the business. She also whips up homemade brownies and cookies which Bauer said are popular with customers.

Since opening, business has been good and Bauer said some of his best customers are the owners and employees of Niles’ other downtown businesses who have also become friends and advisers.

Delivery is free but Bauer also said for a small charge, he’ll deliver outside of Niles.

“We haven’t turned anyone down yet,” he said.

Most of all, Bauer said he is just happy to have a place where people can come and enjoy the pizza he grew up on, especially those he considers part of his own family.

One of the big reasons he took on the business, he said, “is so I could stay connected to my Tyler family. They’ve shown a lot of support. They’re here all the time. I love what I’m doing,” he said. “It’s a feeling I don’t think I’ve ever felt before.”

For more information, visit 3rd Street Pizzeria online on Facebook.