The Murrells come full circle
N3- Hit the Road Joe has long been a food lovers favorite resting comfortably in its cabinesque headquarters just outside of Croton. Since the pandemic HTRJ, like many smaller venues, transitioned from inside dining to take out providing dinners three nights a week out of their Elm Avenue locale. The N3 Nibbler section updates their takeout offerings each week and from time to time Chef T. (aka Tracy Murrell) has added a Saturday pizza night, a move proven to be popular among those of us who savor a good pie. Their offerings have thrust them into ‘where to find the best pizza’ conversations throughout the community.
The demand has been so high that changes were necessary and we caught up with the engaging personality that is Chef T. to have her describe their latest venture and how it came to be.
“Faced with the new challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic we were forced to close our doors and scramble for new avenues in keeping the business afloat. As you know I just took over Jan 2020! (https://www.nearnorthnow.com/news/the-torch-is-passed-at-hit-the-road-joe) So I decided to do Dinners to Go through the drive-thru three nights a week which has been going well and will continue to be offered to our patrons.
I have chosen not to re-open inside service at this time due to the half capacity regulation and for the safety of my community. It just isn't worth being staffed and stocked for only a handful of inside customers, as well as the obvious health concern of having people sitting at tables without a mask.
At this time we must go back for a little history lesson on Jeff and Tracy Murrell and Pizza and Cooking and training in things related to Pizza and Cooking… And lions and tigers and bears.
After less than a year of dating, we bought a pizza shop in Grand Rapids on the corner of Michigan St. and Fuller, promptly changing the name to “J. Morello’s Pizzeria” (Our name is Murrell, which is not very Italian sounding). Jeff brought a wealth of pizza experience, learning the craft from years working on Leonard St under Sam Vitale himself.
We always knew that we wanted to do pizza again together. During this time with the pandemic, the organic opportunity arose to slide into another avenue of serving the community and still keeping the business alive. That’s when we decided to try the wood-fired oven. We could combine Jeff’s pizza knowledge with my culinary training to create truly artisan pizza creations keeping true to HTRJ’s roots and ideals of homemade goodness prepared fresh.
The first oven was just a small dome type oven which could only cook two 12” pies at a time and the phone was ringing off the wall. We could not keep up and wait times were commonly over two hours. We quickly realized we were onto something and the good feedback and orders kept coming. It was obvious there was a demand for artisan pizza in our area.
WIth that realization, my husband decided to build a new larger oven that would be wood-fired but customized for larger capacity while still having the sustainability of cooking with wood and maintaining that Artisan quality! He did it and it is truly a masterpiece. We can now cook up to 10 pizzas at a time if needed. We are still working out a few kinks but feel that we are ready to move forward and start offering our crafted pizzas every Saturday starting on Halloween night!!!!
I haven't given up on the cafe and breakfast but at this time while we are navigating through these uncharted waters of 2020 this seems to be the direction Hit the Road Joe will be pursuing, at least for now!!
It is our hope that we can maintain reputation and offer something new to our community….
There's no better feeling in the world than a warm pizza box in your lap."-Kevin James
Features and Fun
Concerts, Plays, Happenings, Local Recipes, Gardening, Entertainment, Charities, Fundraisers, upcoming events, Theater, Activities, Tech, and much more.
“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.”
- Eric Qualman