In 2018, Emmons was preparing to open his own restaurant, Fire Side Pizza Bar, in Pearland when his daughter, Allison, mistakenly called it Fire Stone Pizza, he said. Emmons wanted the name to instantly give people a visual of what was being served, and Fire Stone Pizza Bar did just that, he said.
“Pizza is one of those things that is fun,” Emmons said. “It is a familial type of thing where families sit together and they share off the same pan. There’s something to be said when you’re sharing something; there’s some type of conversation to be had.”
One of the unique attractions Fire Stone Pizza Bar offers is its brick oven. The extra twist Emmons’ restaurant provides is an open kitchen. As patrons sit at a table with friends and family, or wind down at the bar, they can see dough being tossed in the air and pizzas being prepared.
Occasionally, Emmons said he can hear when children are mesmerized and drawn to the pizza being made. If the business is not as crowded, he will sometimes even take the dough from their own pizza out to them so they can feel it, he said.
“It is something that is part of our entertainment, part of the experience that we create here,” Emmons said. “Part of the experience is you get to see the action of what is going on with your pizza and watching guys hand craft it.”
After opening in October 2018, Fire Stone Pizza Bar intended for its main business to be based on the dine-in experience, but COVID-19 forced the restaurant to readjust. When the pandemic first began, it took away about 65% of their business, Emmons said.
“I wanted a place where people could grab their kids, grab their friends, grab their neighbors, go sit down at a nice restaurant and have a full-service experience,” he said. “We went from becoming a growth restaurant, a growth opportunity, to just like everybody else, figuring out how you survive.”
Now, more than 18 months since the pandemic began in the Houston area, the restaurant has reached where Emmons expected it to be a year ago, he said. The business has transitioned into doing more carryout and delivery orders, but the lure of the dining experience has seen a resurgence as well, he added. Emmons credits a lot of it to his loyal customers.
“I want them to feel a bit of ownership to this restaurant,” he said. “They may connect because they love the pizza, but I want them to feel like this is their restaurant.”