Until recently, Key Colony Beach residents would need to make a trip down Sadowski Causeway or further to find pizza and ice cream. As of Causeway Pizza’s January opening, that’s no longer the case.
Causeway’s owner Tim Cook and his wife had visited the Keys on and off for about eight years before Hurricane Irma. When the storm hit, a crew from Cook’s construction company was already loaded up with gear, ready to come in as soon as possible and begin rebuilding. This deeper involvement in the community sparked ideas for a new venture. “I had sold my seafood restaurant in Tallahassee four years ago. I knew I’d open up another one, but I wasn’t sure what kind or where.”
Upon seeing the damage the restaurant’s current building had sustained, Cook finally saw his prospective new location and began talking to Harry Kircher, the owner of the property. “Harry is big on making sure any store in the building fits with his concepts. I talked with him and other Key Colony residents about what they could envision doing well in the space. What we got back was: pizza, wings, ice cream, and sports.”
With a general idea in mind, Cook explained his vision to Kircher. “We wanted the total package,” he explained. “We wanted a great location by the water with outdoor seating and, of course, good food.” Inspired by his four-year-old daughter, Cook also wanted Causeway to be a place for families. A large side room will eventually be available for pizza and ice cream parties where children can throw their own dough and make their own pies.
Turning Cook’s vision into a reality took about three months of construction between himself and manager Dez Smith. “Harry knew I was a contractor and could gut the place, and that’s what we did, from floor to ceiling.” As a finishing touch, the team brought in photography by Andrew Eales of Formula Freediving to pay tribute to the Keys’ aquatic life as an important part of the restaurant’s aesthetic charm.
The eatery boasts a real life chef — Felipe Gallego. In fact, Cook said the Venezuelan native interviewed HIM before he decided whether to apply. “He asked to see my ingredients first,” Cook said. “He takes pizza seriously.” Indeed, Causeway Pizza shops the local fresh produce stand for its ingredient, and makes it sauce in house. Plus, Cook said he has ties to the commercial fishing industry and so the seafood products are very fresh, very tasty.
Causeway Pizza opened its doors on Jan. 17 to more business than they could have imagined. “There were three days when we completely sold out of pizzas by 7:30 p.m. We literally had no more dough to sell to people,” said Dez. Although primarily a pizza parlor, the shop has found some of its other offerings to be best-sellers as well. Case in point: their bacon-wrapped lobster bites, made with fresh Florida Keys spiny lobster, have also sold out multiple times.
While they are off to a fast start, Cook plans to expand Causeway’s offerings in the near future. Catering, a cook-your-catch option, and expanded delivery options are in the cards. “We’re in it for the long haul,” said Cook. “We want to make sure that we can make it long term.”
Causeway Pizza is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday, with an extra hour until 11 p.m. on Friday through Sunday. Visit them at 301 Sadowski Causeway in Key Colony Beach or by calling 305-735-4116.