Bringing a unique dining experience… Saucy’s Pizza Barn offers a menu to fill any appetite
BY IVAN SANDERS
Many have taken notice of all the busy work going on at the former Pizza Inn eatery wondering just what is going on and what happened to the long time eatery.
During a time that COVID-19 resulted in the restaurant being closed for a short time, some other unforeseen circumstances took place that ended with the business becoming available.
When no one stepped forward to take advantage of the franchise on the business, two familiar faces to local customers who dined at both Pizza Inn and Beef O’Brady’s joined forces to become the newest business owners and have been in full force transforming the former Pizza Inn into Saucy’s Pizza Barn.
The new owners are Valerie Coleman-Cuddy, who spent 28 years with Beef O’Brady’s, and Melody Bice, who had 20 years under her belt with Pizza Inn.
“Obviously, COVID-19 and other things happened and Beef O’Brady’s shut down and I was offered the opportunity to come over here with Melody hiring in as the second GM working with her and we just started talking about different things,” said Coleman-Cuddy.
“My experience at Beef O’Brady’s of 28 years and she has 20 years of Pizza Inn experience and we were working together and everything was rolling along and then we had the opportunity come up that if we wanted to purchase the business, not the franchise, but to purchase everything in here if we wanted to do something and we just decided ‘Hey if no one is going to renew for a Pizza Inn, why don’t we try something.'”
Both could have elected to continue with the franchise, but by doing so they would have limited some of the ideas they had they felt would be met with enjoyment from their future customers which a franchise wouldn’t allow to happen.
“We thought we could bring the wings and other things into it but if you are with a franchise you can’t bring other things in that you want to add,” Bice confirmed.
According to Coleman-Cuddy, they wanted the flexibility to change up the menu and add different items. With the buffet being a hit, the new owners said that was a no-brainer to keep but have also already added a variety of wings and sandwiches.
It was interesting to find out just how the two came up with the new name for their business.
“As we were sitting around like this and just talking about what we would call the restaurant and different things and I was like ‘Gosh Mel we are going to be women business owners and we are saucy’ — at first, I said sassy and then I said saucy and so we threw that around for a little bit,” Coleman-Cuddy said with a chuckle.
“We couldn’t decide if we wanted to put the pizza in the name or not and then we started thinking about remodeling and different things that we were going to do with the restaurant with painting and all the things that we have done.
“We knew it was getting creative where it was looking like a barn so that is kind of what we did,” Coleman-Cuddy continued. “It is kind of funny because we were first tossing around Saucy Mama’s which is kind of a funny thing now and now we are like thank God we didn’t call it Saucy Mamas.
“I just texted her late one night and asked her, ‘Hey Mel, how about Saucy’s Pizza Barn?’ We like the rustic look and we were changing the colors and the things we were picking out and she was like ‘I love it!’
“So it stuck and if you look at our pizza names and if you think of a barn it’s kind of like a pizza barn. It’s more of like a farm and we tied it all in together.”
Together, the ladies came up with the sandwiches they added to their menu with great favorites like Philly Cheesesteak, Philly Chicken, a Club, an Italian Sub, an Italian Steak, Meatball, Chicken Parmesean, Turkey, and Ham & Cheese sandwiches.
Then the two worked on their unique specialties as Coleman-Cuddy took charge of the wings and Bice handled the pizza side of the business in piecing their final menu together.
“We thought way outside the box with chicken wings trying to come up with something no other restaurants had,” Coleman-Cuddy added. “Like Old Bay seasoning which is so good on chicken wings.
“And ranch— most people dip their wings in Ranch but no we thought we are going to sprinkle ranch season as a dry rub and that’s really good too.
We also have the really mild wings for those who like mild and we have the buffalo with the mild sauce.”
Bice added, “We also have Sriracha Bourbon, BBQ Moonshine which is sweet with a little spice, Stinging Honey Garlic which are really good, and a Texas Pete rub.”
What makes Saucy’s Pizza Barn wings even better is that the wings are not cooked in oil but in an air fryer.
“When Mel and I started to talk the chicken wing part, we knew we had to get a fryer in here and how were we going to do this. We thought about the hood system and installing another hood system so your cost would get bigger and bigger and bigger,” Coleman-Cuddy stated.
“Our food rep guy who helped us choose our menu items, he was like I know a guy and let me bring him down to help you with measurements and stuff. So when he came down, he brought the air fryer up to us.
“He started to tell us that they were in Knoxville and all over Nashville and he was like I can set you guys up to go meet with a manager of a restaurant close to here,” Coleman-Cuddy continued.
“And I was like where is the closest one and he said, Pigeon Forge. So we were thinking Kingsport, Johnson City, or Bristol and he was like no you guys would be the only one around here that would have one of these air fryers.
“We got in the car and went down there and they let us watch how they did things and let us try the food and instantly we liked it and came back the next day and ordered it and got it installed. It has been awesome.”
Both agreed that the air fryer is much healthier because the wings are not being cooked in oil. The fryer is much like those used in home kitchens however it is a commercial-grade fryer.
Saucy’s wings are not breaded and basically have the rub applied and cooked in the air fryer.
What came as a surprise was the toughest call that had to be made dealt with pizzas.
“The pizza was our biggest challenge coming up with the pizza dough which is Mel’s side,” said Coleman-Cuddy. “She’s like you are the chicken wing expert and she’s the pizza expert you know and the sandwiches we did together that just rolled off our tongues together.
“But I think that was the biggest struggle was picking a good dough and a good sauce and making sure that everyone is going to like it. However, just today, I got called to a couple of tables and they were like this dough is just so much better than what they had and I was like thank you very much and we really appreciate that.”
“We came up with some cute, creative names for our pizzas that’s for sure to kind of go along with the theme too. We have been getting good responses and it’s been a little crazy in here the last few days,” Bice chipped in.
Some of the pizza choices include Cow-A-Bunga, The Cheesy Heifer, Wicked Chicken, Smokin’ Bird, Farmer’s Market, Clucky Spud, Mexi Moo, and Whole Hog.
Customers can also create their own special pizza from a fresh list of ingredients in small, medium, or large sizes.
Also, if one is in the mood for a breakfast pizza, Saucy’s offers their own take on Sunrise Specials Breakfast Pizza made with fresh eggs, a choice of cheese, protein, and veggies.
One thing the owners want to continue to do is to be active within the community by offering fundraisers which have already been taken advantage of.
If anyone needs an event catered, Saucy’s Pizza Barn appreciates the opportunity to work with anyone who may be interested in having an event catered.
“We have tons of catering already coming in — almost the entire month of August. We can do breakfast, lunch, and dinner and we can be creative with that. We want people just to come in and sit down and talk with us about what they need,” Coleman-Cuddy said.
And while there are a lot of things still to be completed due to a small window, Bice said they will continue to work hard to make their customers’ experience memorable.
“We are still a work in progress trying to get a few things done and it’s still going — it’s just going to take a little bit longer,” Bice said. “We only had a short limited space while we were closed to get some of the major things done and we are going to keep going.
“Everyone has accepted the change really well and they are seeing familiar faces. I kept my staff here and that has helped a whole lot.
“We are working out the kinks but everything has been going really well.”
The new owners wanted to give a word of thanks to everyone for the early opening success they have experienced.
“We want to thank the community for the outpouring of support. It has been overwhelming and we really appreciate it,” Coleman-Cuddy commented. “We welcome opinions and feedback from our customers.”
Saucy’s Pizza Barn’s hours of operation are Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Breakfast pizzas can be picked up at the drive-thru beginning at 8 a.m.
The lunch buffet is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. while the dinner buffet is from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Currently, gloves are available that have to be used when utilizing the buffet bar due to COVID-19.
The restaurant will be closed on Sundays to allow employees time with their families.
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