GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Luna Pizza Cafe, a new Neapolitan-style pizza restaurant, opened in Greenville Tuesday.
Its founder is former ECU professor Richard Williams, who traded a classroom and a lectern for a restaurant and a pizza oven.
“I’ve loved food for a long time and as a college professor, I loved my job,” Williams said. “It really was a fantastic job. Great colleagues, loved my students, loved teaching.”
But then he retired, and he decided to follow up on a new dream.
“I thought if I’m going to do something different, if I’m going to pursue a different dream, then this is the time to do it,” Williams said.
So he took his love of cooking and traveled to Florence to learn how to make the perfect pizza.
“It’s a Neapolitan-style pizza,” said Williams. “The oven can get to 1,000 degrees, and it cooks in two minutes and five seconds.”
He brought the knowledge back to his own restaurant in a building around the corner from ECU. It’s a building he never imagined would still be standing and had even discouraged a friend from renovating.
“I told him ‘Don’t do it; it’s a tear down,’” said Williams. “Little did I know, two years later, it would be my restaurant we were talking about.”
It’s an old Coca-Cola building that has become a prominent addition to Uptown Greenville and is now home to Luna Pizza and Pitt Street Brewing.
“What I think it does is bring diversity to Greenville and Pitt County,” said Andrew Schmidt, executive director of the Greenville-Pitt County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “And you want that in your choices cause you’re going to have people that are visiting Greenville and Pitt County from a lot of different places.”
“I want customers to be able to come in and say, ‘I can’t believe I’m in Greenville,’ and then when they leave, I want them to have had the best hour and a half to two hours of their day,” Williams said.