Eastside cities have seen unprecedented development during recent years, with corporate expansion, improved transit and economic growth prompting a population boom throughout that region.
With this progress, it’s easy for Redmond natives to feel a loss of community, but two local entrepreneurs hope to preserve a sense of home in their second restaurant venture within four years, Spark Pizza.
“We want people to be obsessed because it’s so good,” said Spark Pizza co-owner Carolyn Scott. “We love entertaining people. We love feeding people. We love talking to people…We just really enjoy that one-on-one connection piece.”
Co-owner Tony Scott added with a laugh, “Pizza is delicious. It’s just a great comfort food and there’s room to do really fun interesting things. There’s a million cool things you can do with great ingredients, fresh vegetables as well as the dough to showcase those things.”
Redmond’s downtown has had a hole left unfilled since Frankie’s Pizza and Pasta shut down in 2016 to make way for a new hotel. During his final weeks of operation, Frankie’s owner, Frank Curtiss, worried that as his 23-year-old business and other family-oriented restaurants close down, up-and-coming restaurants would lean more toward the trendy side, appealing to the large influx of young professionals in Redmond.
Carolyn and Tony hope Spark Pizza can fill the need left by long-time businesses with a very community-focused atmosphere in a cozy gathering place.
“We just feel like this kind of restaurant helps bring people together.” Carolyn said. “We’re people connectors and we just really love that aspect as well as being true entrepreneurs.”
The Spark Pizza building was converted from a 1907 residential home at 8110 164th Ave. NE, which has housed several previous businesses. Carolyn and Tony refurbished the interior, aiming to give it a fusion of glamour and New York street art with an original Northwest-themed mural and outdoor deck with a fire pit for seasonal outdoor dining.
Woodblock and Spark Pizza executive chef Savuthy Dy and chef de cuisine Kyle Cole worked together, even traveling to New York, to develop a dozen different pies for the menu. The “Homage to Frankie’s” pizza is self-explanatory as Tony and Carolyn consulted Curtiss, who is a regular at Woodblock, during their development process and wanted to honor his history in Redmond.
“We’ve both lived in Redmond a long time,” Tony said. “We’ve got to know Frank a little bit at Woodblock since he’s come in and he was really excited when he learned about Spark. So he’s been in the kitchen a few times at Spark and talked with us about the dough, recipes, the industry and all that stuff…We get people coming in saying, ‘We’re so glad you have this. We’ve missed Frankie’s for so long,’ and that’s something that I think we’re meeting for people who are missing that from Frankie’s.”
The pizza itself is a fusion of classical Neapolitan and New York pies, which is a popular medium between an original preparation style and the American staple it gave rise to. Dy and Cole use a tweaked New York style recipe and prepare it Neapolitan style, letting the dough rise for 48 hours before it’s ready to cook for about 90 seconds in their wood-fired oven.
Carolyn and Tony put emphasis on quality and community at Spark Pizza and patrons have taken note. The response has been overwhelmingly positive in the first few weeks of business, according to the duo who added they are looking forward to all the community-driven opportunities within Spark Pizza and Woodblock.
“The response has been fantastic and I couldn’t be more thrilled,” Carolyn said. “Something I think Frank really appreciates that’s very similar to the way we feel is that we’re not just serving food. We’re really a community hub. I don’t feel that personal connection when I’ve been eating pizza out in Redmond [recently].”