You’ve probably noticed, as have we, that there is no shortage of pizza restaurants on the Space Coast. Just on your daily commute, you could most likely count several big-name chains, a couple of New York style independents and maybe even a Chicago style joint. So in a sea of competition of big budget and regionally focused competitors, what does it take to make a local owner-operated pizza place successful for more than 28 years? We sat down with Melbourne Beach native Chris Conneen to find out what makes his creation, Pizza Gallery & Grill successful and what sets it apart from the competition.
After a stint with one of those big name brands, with inspiration from his family and faith, Chris decided that he wanted to offer Brevard something that they didn’t know they wanted. Much like a great piece of art is subjective, so is the perfect pizza. Not everyone is satisfied with the minimalism of the standard pepperoni and mushroom; some palates crave a more complex composition. While many of the big brands have caught up with this idea 28 years later, it was Pizza Gallery & Grill that offered Brevard its first taste of gourmet pizza.
That first menu served at the 1900 building in downtown Melbourne featured some favorites that are still on the menu today such as the “Botticelli” Hawaiian teriyaki sauce pizza or the “Alvar” Mediterranean with fresh veggies and an olive oil glaze. Not realizing it all those years ago that his idea might grow to encompass “gourmet pizza and so much more” and eventually add “& Grill” to the name. Conneen told us, “We sincerely considered changing our name, but each time it was like we would be squandering the name everyone already knew. So I finally just said, ‘Let’s embrace it, let’s tell people we are the best gourmet pizza, and oh yeah, if you want an amazing entrée we’ve got those, too.’”