Well, Dunwoody beer and pizza lovers can now do just that thanks to Empire State Pizza & Growlers (5000 Winters Chapel Rd, Dunwoody, Tel: 770.680.5516) owner Todd Pinkerton, and a mayor who likes craft beer.
This Dunwoody pizza and beer to-go shop is a second location for Pinkerton who made a name for himself in the pizza world with the original in Lawrenceville (Empire State Pizza) for using quality ingredients — dough is hand tossed daily, the sauce is San Marazano and the cheese is Grande. No growlers in Lawrenceville though.
Pinkerton, a Dunwoody native, is a craft beer guy who just so happens to be a pizza maker, who just so happened to stumble across the rare Dunwoody municipal code allowing growlers to be sold out of restaurants, and decided his hometown would be the perfect place for a second location.
The beer selection of more than 40 options is constantly changing and surprisingly well balanced — not overloaded with IPAs.
I caught up with Pinkerton to see how things are going, being he is the first and only to take advantage of the law.
Q: How much did the Dunwoody growler law play in you opening your restaurant in Dunwoody?
A: The municipal code in Dunwoody played a huge role in my decision to open in Dunwoody. I realized that Dunwoody was very progressive with their laws concerning growlers and wanted to enable growler shops as soon as possible. Once I started researching the law, I realized there was a possibility for me to combine my two loves — Pizza and Craft beer in the city I grew up. I started talking with the city planner, city attorney and finally the Mayor himself, in order to make sure I was interpreting the law correctly. Turns out the Mayor of Dunwoody is a craft beer enthusiast and was excited about my concept.
Q: With you being the first and currently the only restaurant in Dunwoody selling growlers, do you have any idea why nobody else has taken advantage of this law?
A: Well, I doubt it will be very long before many places start doing it. As far as why no one else has done it, there are still restrictions. No one can sell liquor in any form and sell growlers, so that eliminates the obvious locations with a large selection of draught beer.
Q: Do you see this as a future trend that will catch on. And if so, what will this mean for the growler store, in your opinion?
A: I can see restaurants adding growler stations to their operations. Of course, it is a huge expense to add an extensive selection of draught beers. I think, if a lot of restaurants add growler capacity, it will encroach on the business of the growler shops, but not kill them. There will always be a place for dedicated craft beer experts manning a growler shop. Our employees know beer, and can talk about it. We have our experts and we also have a few high school waitresses that aren’t old enough to drink, so that provides a different experience.
Q: I know there is a similar law in nearby Sandy Springs, any future plans to open a second there or somewhere else with a similar growler law?
A: Sandy Springs is kind of a free-for-all right now, plus they are covered up with pizza. I think we will let the dust settle here in Dunwoody and start seeing what other cities would welcome us.