Mid City Pizza (4400 Banks St., 504-483-8609; www.midcitypizza.com) owner Rand Owens is happy to be part of the thriving Mid-City small business scene. "It's great to see kids skateboarding and playing football outside and then all chipping in for a large pie," Owens says. "There is a really strong sense of community in Mid-City, an 'everyone knows everyone' type of vibe."
Earlier this year, a loyal following had the business bursting at the seams. Loca- ted in a bar with limited stor- age, the fledgling pizzeria was strained on busy nights, but 10 months ago It moved to new digs across the street.
"The business was rapidly growing and we were in the right place at the right time," general manager Sean-Patrick Barros says.
The team at Mid City Pizza expanded what had been a mostly delivery and late-night bar business. It now offers pizzas, sandwiches and appetizers in a breezy, spacious dining room with beers on tap, wine and other cold drinks. There are indoor tables, a small bar top and shaded tables on a wraparound deck, as well as a large flat-screen TV. These amenities, along with extended lunch and dinner hours, have been a boon for business.
"People were coming in to pick up orders they had called in and then deciding to stay and eat in the restaurant once they saw the new space," Barros says.
Mid City Pizza offers 10-inch and 18-inch pies, as well as vegan versions. There's pizza by the slice and $3 beer and wine until 6 p.m.
Barros, a Rhode Island native, says food was impor- tant to his large Italian family when he was growing up.
"Food brought us together and I've always enjoyed not only eating it, but preparing and cooking it for others," Barros says.
Formerly a touring musician who managed Mid City Pizza part time, Barros focused on the restaurant when it expanded.
"[I'm building] something I can be proud of," he says. "And while it's become a lot more stressful, part of me is still really excited about coming in here every day and making 100 pounds of dough and helping feed hundreds of people each day."