Jonesin’ for some good pizza? Chris Jones hopes you are. That’s why the Naples restaurateur launched PizzaJones! on May 24 to build upon the success of his two other local pizzerias, LowBrow Pizza & Beer in East Naples and Industry Pizza & Slice Shop in North Naples.
PizzaJones!, another “LowBrow joint,” replaced The BBQ Shop that Jones co-owned in North Naples. Jones reluctantly closed the barbecue joint earlier this year, but that large unit tucked away at 1040 Collier Center Way — in the North Collier Industrial Center off Old 41 near the Lee County line — still serves food to go and remains home to barbecue pits while being used as an incubator to test everything for PizzaJones!
“We’re sad to see barbecue go. We really wish we didn’t have to make that change, but we’re still going to cater barbecue,” he said.
Jones said his retail barbecue concept that grew from his Porker BBQ food truck just didn’t work in Naples even though he had a pitmaster creating authentic craft barbecue over a wood-burning pit.
“It was a really great product at the end of the day. We had a really good barbecue and our fan base or customer base for it was really loyal, but it just wasn’t enough. It just didn’t take off like I thought it would,” he said. “And barbecue got very expensive.”
Plus, barbecue consumption just can’t compete with pizza. “People will generally eat barbecue maybe once a month, but they’ll eat pizza twice a week or three times a week for that matter. It’s just one of those things, especially in Naples,” Jones said.
The new pizzas are available in 18-inch rounds and 12-by-17-inch rectangles. Slices are served 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for takeout only. The pizzeria is open for online ordering, curbside pickup and home delivery 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, but closed Sunday and Monday.
While his North Naples commissary provides the first taste of PizzaJones!, the new brand also will open this month to replace Jones’ other barbecue joint in Bayfront, the mixed-use development where the southern end of Goodlette-Frank Road meets U.S. 41 East in Naples. Industry Beer & Barbecue at Bayfront recently closed and it’s going to become PizzaJones! It’s the second reboot and rebrand for that 449 Bayfront Place unit in the last few years. Southern Latitudes morphed into Industry Beer & Barbecue in early 2020. It followed the success of Jones’ LowBrow in 2018 and Industry Pizza in 2019. So, PizzaJones! is the third pizzeria concept for Jones, a former country club chef.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever used my name on a restaurant. I was always kind of hesitant to do that. But now we’ve been in business for five years in restaurants and, you know, another two or three with the food trucks,” Jones said. “We thought it was a good name. It’s not trademarked. It’s not out there. And, it’s like, jonesing for pizza, you know? So, we thought it was a good name and our pizza’s evolving and that’s really what it is. We wanted to introduce a different style.”
Jones and his team worked hard to modify the dough from their Industry and LowBrow recipes. “We put a lot of time and effort into it,” he said. “I don’t think anyone makes dough like we do except for maybe the Pizzata guys. I think they make a pretty good pizza.”
Similar to Pizzata Pizzeria, which launched last summer in North Naples, PizzaJones! starts with sourdough. “It’s naturally leavened,” Jones said. “It’s the same idea, same philosophy as LowBrow. Same philosophy as Industry Pizza & Slice Shop, but slightly different. I’m really proud of it.”
Jones thinks customers will be able to tell the difference.
“Flavor-wise, I think they’re going to notice it. I think they’re going to notice it’s crispier. It’s lighter,” he said, noting that every bite of each slice of pizza is well balanced and consistently eats well. “I find a lot of pizza too heavily topped in this town. You can put all the toppings you want on the pizza, but it doesn’t necessarily help the eating quality.”
Jones, of course, isn’t straying too far from his expert barbecue. His new pizza menu includes the Smokeshow, an ode to Industry BBQ that features pit-smoked brisket, pulled pork, smoked pork belly, smoked shoulder bacon, a barbecue drizzle, jalapeños and smoked mozzarella.
Another specialty pizza, El Presidente, was created to impress Dave “El Presidente” Portnoy of Barstool Sports, who raved about pizzas at LowBrow and Industry two years ago during one of his One Bite online pizza reviews. That tribute pie has red sauce, mozzarella, pecorino and Parmesan.
Fans of Jones’ other pizzerias will be familiar with some of the other pizza toppings on favorites, such as Maggie May and Roni Roni. Also, similar to LowBrow, the brief menu for lunch and dinner includes “Not Pizza” items, such as Little Bones pizza fries, meatball parm pull-aparts, wings and salads.
“We’ve got to have some fun. The business is way too hard not to have fun,” Jones said.
After he gets the Bayfront location open, Jones plans to make a few changes to the restaurant. “I’m going to invest in some more TVs and we are trying to build a little bit more of a sports bar feel there. We get a lot of requests for that,” he said. “With the pizza, I think it all kind of works together.”