EPPING — After seven years of success in Hampton, The Community Oven is planning to open a second location in the retail space formerly occupied by 900 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria.
The wood-fired pizza restaurant is expected to open by the end of June and will become the newest addition to the Brickyard Square shopping center on Route 125.
Owner Shane Pine, who will operate the Epping location with his nephew and restaurant co-owner John Griffin, said he’s always wanted to have a restaurant in town.
“I’ve always liked the feel of Epping,” he said.
Pine said he was interested in opening in Brickyard Square, but 900 Degrees signed a lease before him and a non-compete clause prevented him from moving into the plaza.
“I always had a desire to get in there,” said Pine, whose restaurant venture is a family affair. His daughter, Alyssa Pine, serves as a business partner and other family work for him, including his son, Patrick Pine, daughter Makayla Pine, his sister, Mary Griffin, brother Kevin Pine, and Chris Michaud, another family member.
900 Degrees closed its Epping location in January after five years while its Portsmouth restaurant shut down last October — just six months after it opened.
While 900 Degrees continues to operate its Manchester location, it has faced legal troubles as former landlords claim the business owes thousands in unpaid rent for the Epping and Portsmouth restaurants.
Meanwhile, Pine, a Hampton resident, is optimistic that his Epping location will be as successful as the original Hampton restaurant, which opened in 2012.
“Hampton really took us in and really supported us throughout the years, and it’s done very well,” he said.
Pine and his daughter also opened Shane’s Texas Pit Bar and Grill in Hampton in April 2018.
When the 900 Degrees spot opened up and Griffin decided he wanted to become a business partner with Pine, they pursued the Epping location.
Pine described himself as a community-minded person.
“I give back to the community. I try to do things involving the community, and I like being involved in communities that are thinking that same way. I feel that community vibe in Epping,” he said.
The 180-seat Epping restaurant will employee 50 to 60 workers and will reach out to area farms and businesses for locally sourced products, Pine said.
Griffin used to be a cook and busser at the Hampton location when he was younger and helps out at Shane’s Texas Pit Bar and Grill, but he was working as an electrical engineer until the opportunity to open in Epping came up.
He said he’s leaving his job at Coast to Coast Layout Design Inc. to operate the new restaurant, which is under renovation.