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'Hey' and a 'howl' put the fun in new pizzeria

Ashtin Marlow serves a pizza at the new Hendersonville Pizzeria. Ashtin Marlow serves a pizza at the new Hendersonville Pizzeria.

LAUREL PARK — In a market flush with pizza purveyors, you gotta do something to stand out.


At the new Hendersonville Pizzeria in the former Subway space in Laurel Park, the difference starts as soon as a patron walks through the door.
“Heyyyy,” comes a greeting in unison from the cooks and servers. Ordering a Big Bad Wolf, the meat lover’s pizza, sets off a robust chorus of “how-ool!” from the kitchen staff. And Hendersonville Pizzeria has got to be the only pizza purveyor in town with a 10-year-old server (with Luigi Marlowni sewn on his apron) and a 5-year-old hostess who specializes in ushering tots to the kid zone.
“We are family friendly,” says Joy Marlow, who opened the restaurant with her husband, Jacob, on Sept. 30. “We’d like to bring back the family dinner.”
They’re doing that with a fun atmosphere, feel-good signs (“You can’t make everyone happy. You’re not a pizza.), a “framily tree” (featuring photos of “friends you treat like friendly) and New York-style brick oven pizza, pasta, calzones and wings. No booze, and not because they’re waiting for their ABC license. They don’t plan to offer beer or wine.
Hendersonville Pizzeria uses two letters in Hendersonville plus the P in pizza to brand itself as HSP. The initials actually come from the restaurant that got the Marlows started, Heath Springs Pizza, in the small South Carolina town they migrated from. Friends who ran the pizzeria there, Steve and Linda Myers, told Joy they’d give her the pizza, Stromboli and wing recipes if she promised to open her own HSP.
Done and done.

Tree-to-table dessert

The menu features 16 specialty pizzas, including buffalo chicken bacon ranch, Alohoa, Goldilocks (chicken Alfredo), BLT, Little Red Riding Hood (pepperoni, pineapple, jalapeno) and Three Little Pigs (pepperoni, sausage, bacon). They’re available from personal ($11.95-12.95) to Big Daddy-sized ($22.95-25.95). There are eight calzones and strombolis in small, medium and large ($7.95-18.95), 10 chicken wing flavors, baked spaghetti and alfredo and house, Caesar’s and chef salads. In a message on the menu, the couple promises to soon add keto, gluten-free and cauliflower pizza dough, more pasta dishes and subs.
“So far what has sold the best is our Big Bad Wolf pizza, it’s our meat lovers and when you order it we all have to give a little howl,” she said. “Let me show you.” She shouts out an order and, call and response, a robust howl echoes back, bigger than advertised.
One of the house specials is a tree-to-table dessert, Mamma’s Apple Pie Stromboli made with fresh apples from Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard.
“That is a seasonal Stromboli and I also have a chocolate chip dessert pizza that people really like and then our secret dessert pizza that’s not even on the menu yet is our s’mores pizza,” she says. “Our dessert pizzas are a big big seller right now.”

Kid zone hostess

Business has been steady the first three weeks, with customers endorsing the place by coming back.
“During the week we have a lot of dine-in and on the weekend we have a lot of takeout,” Joy says. “I would say 50% take-out and 50% dine-in on the weekend.”
Devout Christians, the Marlows have plenty on their plate besides kneading dough and slinging sauce. Jacob runs Carolina Electrical Services from an office next door, with Joy’s help. They have two college-age kids, ages 23 and 21, who live out of town. They homeschool 10-year-old Ashtin and 5-year-old Addison in the 4Rs, the usual ones plus one.
“Part of their home-schooling is they get to work at the restaurant,” Joy says. “They come in and they bus tables. She’s in charge of the kids’ section.”
The couple moved their electrical business to Laurel Park in February and then took a leap of faith when a short-lived sandwich shop next door suddenly closed.
“When it became available we prayed about it and decided this is where God wanted us,” Joy says. Yes, she adds, they were aware that there are plenty of other pizza places nearby.
“We researched the area quite a bit but we feel very led to be here,” Joy says. “We feel this is where God wants us and we feel very strongly about that. We feel like there’s a reason that we’re here, whatever it may be — whether it’s to help some struggling young kids that need jobs and mentoring, to being a light in the community, having a real family-oriented place.”

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Hendersonville Pizzeria, 1620 Brevard Road, is open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. Contact: 828-595-9850,