BROWNSBURG — Jeff Aldridge has always loved two things: basketball and cooking. So when he decided to make the leap and open his own restaurant, he knew he had to give it a high school basketball theme.
Hoosier Pizza and Subs opened in Brownsburg on Dec. 1.
“I drove trucks for 22 years over the road,” Aldridge said. “Then I was a chef at Milano Inn down in Indianapolis for a couple of years and cooked at a few other restaurants. My aunt and uncle have a restaurant in Thorntown, and I’ve always loved to cook. It’s always been in my blood to do something like this.”
Aldridge says the restaurant has a “Hoosiers” basketball theme, and he even sought the council of Bobby Plump, star player on the famed 1954 Milan High School team that the movie was fashioned after. The decor, however, is a homage to his late father.
“My dad was a really big basketball fan,” Aldridge said. “He was a big star at Lebanon when he played. I lost him last year and went ahead with the basketball theme because it’s something he enjoyed. We’d always sit and watch basketball games together.”
Aldridge says he knows opening such a venue will be a challenge. Hoosier Pizza and Subs is the fifth pizza restaurant to attempt to make a go of it at the location along U.S. 136 where it intersects with Northfield Drive. But he says it’s the uniqueness and the ingredients that will set him apart.
“Everything we do is fresh,” he said. “I’m in here at 10 a.m. every morning. We cut our veggies every day. We don’t reuse anything. I don’t like getting vegetables in a bag and just dumping them out. Our sauce is home made, a recipe my wife and I came up with. With our sandwiches, our meatballs are homemade. Nothing is shipped in. Everything is fresh and I want to keep it that way.”
So fresh that Aldridge laughs that when he comes into work, he’s often carrying vegetables that he just bought for the day. He’s confident his model will work.
“I know we’ve got a quality product,” he said. “I’d put our pizzas up against anybody’s in town with the freshness of everything. Our sauce, you’re not going to get it anywhere else. It’s a good sauce for pizza. I’ve worked for places where all their vegetables are in a bag and put in a walk-in, and you don’t know how long it’s been there.”
Aldridge’s favorite part of this new journey, however, has everything to do with family.
“My kids love pizza,” he said. “This is a family business. We all work here. My wife has a full-time job and then she comes here to help. Eventually we’ll grow and make it a little bigger, make it more of a sit-down style restaurant where we can serve more. Eventually we’re going to do lunch and add pastas to our menu. But the most enjoyable part is being able to do it with my family, being able to grow a business with them.”
He said he’s looking to get his name out there by giving back to the community. As of this season, 10 percent of the proceeds from sales on Brownsburg basketball game nights will go back to the basketball program, he said. Additionally, he offers free food during a half time free throw shooting contest.
“We just came out with a pizza called the Bulldog,” he said. “It’s a pulled pork barbecue pizza and it’s awesome. It’s barbecue sauce, mozzarella cheese, pulled pork, and banana peppers.”
He said they deliver in Brownsburg as well as Clermont.
“I like serving people,” he said. “I like meeting new people, and being a part of the community. It’s a great feeling when you see someone eat your food and they enjoy it and they come back. That’s the satisfaction I get.”
Hoosier Pizza and Subs is at 1447 E. Main St., Suite C. They can be reached by calling 858-7568 or found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HoosierPizzaAndSubs.