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Bobbio's is slinging pies farther than ever

Bobbio's Pizza has breathed life into a long darkened Medford pizza parlor.

It's been eight years since Pizza Hut shuttered its South Riverside location. This week, locally owned Bobbio's fired up the ovens and began serving pies.

From the raucous arcade to the smell of fresh pizzas, the 4,200-square-foot restaurant at 1211 S. Riverside Ave., has regained its form.

"We had been talking about branching out for a little while, to Grants Pass or a different location," Operations Manager Kenny Lemke said. "This has always been one of those buildings we looked at, and thought it would be nice."

The target date for opening was June 1, but in addition to the normal facelift work there were complications.

"We discovered there were a lot of unique challenges when a building has been vacant for eight years," Lemke said. "They're not designed to be empty. Everything from faucets that have seals that have been dry to the sewage system. The HVAC had to be pretty much overhauled."

A new cooking hood was designed to exchange air so the kitchen remains tolerable on triple-digit summer days and warm in the winter.

More than a quarter of a century ago, Bob Kline opened Bobbio's. The operation has worked out of several locations in Medford and Central Point, was sold to Tom Brown Sr. and later Tom Brown Jr. 

Rick and Joy Deates acquired the Central Point store from Tom Brown Jr. in December 2013. They expanded to the Grandview Center near North Medford High School and later acquired the White City Bobbio's from Tom Brown Sr.

The Grandview Center location was shuttered in December and four months later the owners signed a lease for the south Medford location.

The new shop's capacity is 120, including two party rooms. The operation has nearly 50 employees, ranging from high school sophomores to 50-somethings. With the new location, Bobbio's now delivers from Eagle Point to Phoenix.

"With the old Medford store we didn't come down to Barnett," Lemke said. "It gives us a huge, huge reach now, and we've been getting feedback from Phoenix that it's nice that someone is delivering there now."

Over the years, Bobbio's has built a loyal following of dine-in clients. But there's a connection with delivery customers.

"When we had to bite the bullet and switch over to charging for delivery, we put our charge at the low end," Lemke said. "The one thing I tell all of my new delivery drivers is tell a joke, pet the dog, talk to the kid. That's what you do, and you start to get to know people."

He said Bobbio's staff eagerly jumped into getting the new digs ready.

"A lot of employees put their heart and soul into this building; that's the kind of thing that tells you about Rick and Joy," Lemke said. "Most people that work in pizza joints aren't going to be willing to pour in those kind of hours and that kind effort to just some job."

The telephone number for the new store is 541-500-1935.

— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.

Daniel Lucas, shift leader at Bobbio's Pizza, tosses a crust Thursday at its new location near Riverside Avenue and Barnett Road in Medford. [Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch]