At a time when diners are relying on food delivery, pizza is king. At least, that’s what Alexander Hall is hoping for as he transforms St. Kilda Surf & Turf in the East Village to a Neapolitan-style pizzeria.
Franka Pizzeria will open in the existing space, 111 E. Grand Ave., on Dec. 4.
St. Kilda Surf & Turf, which opened there in spring 2019, will end service after dinner on Saturday.
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Hall, who with his wife, Whitney, owns four St. Kilda locations in the Des Moines metro, had long resisted putting his menu items on delivery services like Grubhub. But as the pandemic wore on and it was clear diners were staying home, he changed his mind.
As business has dropped off, Hall and his wife decided to reinvent the Surf & Turf space, using a concept they had already planned to open as a stand-alone.
“With COVID, restaurants have been severely hamstrung — is the politest, most understated way I can say it,” Hall said. “Surf & Turf seems to have been hit hardest — the East Village has gotten quiet.”
Switching gears to pizza not only will help by producing food that will adapt to delivery, but it will diversify the menus across St. Kilda’s locations, Hall said.
“We know that pizza is going to deliver well,” he said.
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To make the switch, the Halls invested in a gas-fired pizza oven that will quick-cook the pizzas in three minutes at 900 degrees. They also will do a light remodeling of the restaurant’s décor.
Franka Pizzeria will feature individual 12-inch pizzas with toppings like artichokes, red peppers and artisan salami and either red or white sauce. It also will feature appetizers and salads, with a full brunch menu on weekends. Prices will range from $12 to $20.
The restaurant will be open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Surf & Turfs’ most-loved menu items will appear at St. Kilda’s other locations, including the lobster roll and fish tacos, which will be on the menu at St. Kilda Collective in Valley Junction next week.
Hall has temporarily closed the St. Kilda Cafe & Bakery at the Temple for Performing Arts in downtown Des Moines as foot traffic from nearby businesses has dropped off. Northern Vessel, a