When the pair branched out after years at corporate restaurants, McNamara looked to his uncle and godfather, a successful entrepreneur in California who created the Wise Guys brand.
“He is my godfather and the reason why I got into the business,” McNamara said of his uncle. “He’s the reason why we have a ‘Godfather booth’ in both restaurants.”
Together, and with a mix of the style of Chicago gangsters of old and the wise guys, or great thinkers, of today, McNamara and McCain set out to create a restaurant that was uniquely their own.
The pair first launched Wise Guys Pizzeria in Grapevine in 2015, and it was not long before they were approached for an expansion opportunity in downtown Roanoke.
“This was the first building on the south end,” McNamara said about the Roanoke location. “We weren’t even talking about it yet, but we saw the momentum here.”
“It was a scary thought,” McCain added. “We were making it through our first year, which is usually your hardest.”
With a number of staff in tow from the original DFW location, McCain and McNamara took the leap and opened a second Wise Guys location and its first in the Unique Dining Capital of Texas in July 2017.
Since then, Roanoke diners have been treated to hand-tossed pizzas cooked in a stone-deck oven as well as local brews and wine and complimentary garlic knots.
“It’s about the experience and having the whole package: tasty treats and classic rock singalong music,” McNamara said.
Taking a foundation that was proven successful, the challenge has been finding subtle tweaks that help to enhance the dining experience, McNamara said.
The pair said they strive to create a family-friendly atmosphere at Wise Guys, while the business is centered on pizza, pasta, premium drafts, prompt delivery, purpose, people and Proverbs 13:20, which states whoever walks with the wise will become wise.
“It’s about having a purpose and loving on your people. Those P’s drive everything we do,” McNamara said. “We try to keep it value-driven, but we’re super passionate about the product. It has to be better for the guests, our employees and the community.”
Minding the p’s of Wise Guys Pizzeria
Owners Kevin McNamara and Larry McCain have key principles that act as the foundation of their business.
- Premium drafts
- Prompt delivery
- Proverbs 13:20
Wise Guys Pizzeria
311 S. Oak St., Roanoke
Hours: Sun.-Thu. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.