Before opening Peyton’s Pie Co. on Sept. 8, Nicholas St. Clair made sure to honor the woman who guided the revival of downtown Flowery Branch — Karen Marie Ching.
He named the pizza restaurant’s wood-fired oven “Marie” and added an engraving to commemorate Ching — also known as the unofficial mayor of Flowery Branch — who died Nov. 21, 2019.
“She was the beacon (of Flowery Branch),” St. Clair said. “No one can replace her. This was her vision from the beginning. We feel proud that we’re able to honor her legacy by continuing to build small businesses.”
St. Clair, who also owns and operates Antebellum on Main Street in Flowery Branch, first opened Peyton’s Pie in 2016 in Suwanee. After around a year, he said its closed because of turnover at the restaurant, the birth of his third child and a couple of other reasons.
Antebellum has also hosted Peyton’s Pie pop-ups to give guests a taste of the restaurant’s pizza and supply the demand of its dedicated followers.
When Ching died last year, St. Clair said he realized it was time to “try again” to bring back their dream of opening a pizza restaurant in the downtown space next to Beer Me at 5609 Main St.
Where: 5609 Main St., Flowery Branch
Hours: 4-8:30 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.
More info: peytonspiecompany.com or 678-828-8699
The pandemic threw a wrench in the restaurant’s plans, delaying its opening date by three months. St. Clair said the people hired to install the wood-fired oven were based in New York, which underwent a lockdown in March. The business owner said he also had to put his progress on hold to focus on Antebellum.
Luckily, St. Clair was able to regain his momentum and open Peyton’s Pie on Sept. 8. The restaurant has a seating capacity of 35-40 people and keeps tables socially distanced.
“It’s super awesome,” St. Clair said. “I want to offer great pizza to people. It’s something I love.”
St. Clair said entering the realm of pizza making proved intimidating at first.
“The ingredients are simple, but the techniques are difficult,” he said. “I thought there’s no way I’d be able to do it. But I love learning. When I find something new I’m interested in, I put 100% into it.”
He built a brick oven in his backyard and set to work at creating the perfect wood-fired pizza with quality ingredients and traditional elements.
When people order one of the signature dishes at Peyton’s Pie, St. Clair said they can expect to see a pizza made with Italian techniques and American toppings. Through using a wood-fired oven, as opposed to other types, he said the freshness of the dough is maintained and the cook-time is decreased.
Peyton’s Pie offers 16-inch pizzas, ranging from $16-$24. During lunchtime on Saturdays and Sundays, people can order personal 10-inch personal pies for $8-$14.
One of St. Clair’s favorite combinations at the restaurant includes his take on the Hawaiian pizza. After sprinkling cheese on the sauced dough, he adds pork belly, which has been braised in apple cider vinegar for 3.5 hours. He then tops the pizza with fresh pineapple, roasted garlic and chilli.
The “Classic Peyton’s” serves up an Italian-style pizza with sausage, fresh basil and pickled peppadew peppers, a sweet red pepper originally grown in South Africa.
For those not in the mood for pizza, Peyton’s Pie also offers dishes like a meatball sub, deviled egg sandwich, salad, bratwurst and wings. Customers are encouraged to pick up a beverage at Beer Me and walk over to the restaurant to enjoy a meal.
Although he still runs Antebellum across the street from the pizza restaurant, St. Clair said he isn’t worried about being stretched thin between businesses.
“I have a really good team at both places,” he said. “They’re able to make it happen.”
St. Clair named Peyton’s Pie after his oldest son, who helped him in the kitchen when he first started making pizza.
St. Clair said he wants to create a comfortable atmosphere for people to congregate when guests enter the restaurant.
“We’re hoping for a fun place to hang out and eat pizza,” he said.
Peyton’s Pie is open from 4-8:30 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit peytonspiecompany.com.