By Laura Leite Telescope News
DISHING UP INNOVATION
(Seventh in a series. The pandemic has been a challenge for Republic county restaurants. Many found innovative ways to serve and support the community they call home. Over the next few weeks, the Telescope will take a closer look at local restaurants and how they have persevered.)
Josh and Kelly Collard moved to Belleville from Houston to be closer to family. After originally purchasing the building on the north side of the square in Belleville for their furniture business, they decided that Belleville could use a pizza restaurant.
“After Josh’s dad passed away, we felt like family is the most important thing in life,” said Kelly. “So we moved back to Belleville.”
“We started building furniture in Texas when we adopted our son,” said Kelly. “The business thrived and that is originally why we purchased the building in Belleville where the Wood Shop Pizza restaurant is located. The building had a lot of character but needed someone to bring it out.”
“We remodeled the building and now a lot of people really enjoy it, which makes us happy,” she says. “During the process of utilizing the building for furniture, we noticed a need for something else in Belleville like a new eatery or somewhere people could gather. Since Pizza Hut closed, pizza was the logical choice. We had never cooked pizza before in our lives but decided to give it a try.”
The Collards ordered a custom oven from California and hit the kitchen to come up with a dough recipe. That, says Kelly, was the hardest part of the endeavor. “We eventually landed on a nice dough recipe and we think it tastes pretty good,” she says.
For the Collards, the best parts of owning a restaurant are meeting new people, providing jobs for local high school students, and creating a destination spot for the Belleville community. “It is definitely a challenge and I would say we enjoy that aspect too,” says Kelly.
“As parents and owners of a restaurant, it gives us the opportunity to teach hard work and integrity. Our children ages 9 through12 roll up their sleeves and work extremely hard,” said Kelly. “That is probably what we enjoy the most is seeing the work ethic develop in our children.”
When COVID first hit, the Wood Shop closed for the month of April and did not resume business until the second of May. “From May 2 on, we ran our business as normal, while we lost money and thought about closing, we used personal funds to stay afloat,” she says. “We were watching too many places close and felt like we needed to stay the course.”
Kelly feels that one of the reasons that they have been successful is that they have not required face masks and people can have a sense of normalcy while at the restaurant. “We respect everyone and welcome ‘maskers’ and ‘non-maskers’ alike,” she says.
“We love seeing people come from far and wide to enjoy our restaurant and thank the Lord for His grace during this trying time,” she says. “We have become a destination spot for people from all over. We have some regulars that come weekly from an hour away. This is a testament to the food quality and the ambiance of our quaint little pizza shop.”
“We make most of our dishes from scratch, which is hard to find,” said Kelly. “Our three most popular dishes are the meat lovers, jalapeno popper and honey sriracha cream cheese pepperoni pizzas. We also have incredible salads and wraps that are a favorite of many patrons.”
The Wood Shop is currently open Tuesday through Saturday night and closed on Sunday and Monday. They are contemplating opening for lunch this summer.