Sexton's Pizza expected to open in Old Hilliard this summer

A. Kevin Corvo
ThisWeek group

A new pizzeria is on track to open in Old Hilliard this summer.

Sexton’s Pizza will be in the Junction by Westwood development on Franklin Street, adjacent to the entrance of the Heritage Rail Trail.

This rendering illustrates how Westwood Collective plans to redevelop a warehouse on Franklin Street in Old Hilliard into an office space and a restaurant.

Related story:New office space, restaurant planned in Old Hilliard

Siblings Joey and Jamey Sexton own Sexton’s Pizza and have two other locations, both on the east side of the region: at 8005 E. Broad St. in Reynoldsburg and at 943 E. Johnstown Road in Gahanna.

The pies are a cross between a Columbus-style medium crust with a New York-style “chew,” said Joey Sexton, 40.

“We have a pizza consultant, and even he has a tough time describing our pizza," he said.

But the key is pizza toppings and ingredients, including pepperoni made by Columbus' Ezzo Sausage Co. and the freshest tomatoes, Joey Sexton said.

The Sexton brothers, both graduates of Gahanna Lincoln High School, got their start with a food truck in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“We missed our favorite pizza (while living in St. Petersburg), so we made our own and began with a food truck (in 2016),” Joey Sexton said.

Both brothers are U.S. Army veterans and have experience working in the restaurant industry – but not as chefs in the kitchen, Joey Sexton said.

“It was a lot of trial and error (and) not a conventional way to go,” he said, but they parlayed the food-truck business into opening their first pizzeria in February 2019 in Reynoldsburg, followed by the second location in November in Gahanna.

“We probably used the food truck four or five times” since opening the first pizzeria and never near Hilliard, Joey Sexton said.

But that changed when the brothers accepted an invitation to bring the food truck to a birthday party in October for the family of a neighbor in Hilliard.

That neighbor was Andy Warnock, cofounder of Westwood Collective, a development company that also opened Legacy Smokehouse in late 2018 at 3987 Main St. in Old Hilliard.

“The pizza was a huge hit, and I told (Joey Sexton) I had the perfect spot for him (to open a pizzeria in Hilliard)," Warnock said. "That’s where the idea was born, in the front yard during a birthday party.”

This aerial view shows a warehouse at 5460 Franklin St. in Old Hilliard that the Westwood Collective development company plans to transform into shared office space and a restaurant.

Warnock said he was about to close on the purchase of what will become the Junction by Westwood, an 8,200-square-foot warehouse building at 5460 Franklin St.

Sexton’s Pizza will occupy a portion of it, Warnock said.

Office space at the facility is expected to open for leasing as soon as April.

The Franklin Street building is being converted from its warehouse use into what Warnock describes as “an incubator” for local entrepreneurs and small businesses, as well as coworking areas.

Westwood Collective is spending “north of $250,000” to renovate the structure after purchasing it from the Hilliard Development Corp., Warnock said.

“I know Hilliard doesn’t have a shortage of pizza places, (but) there’s nothing quite like this,” said Warnock, adding its location also would be convenient for people using the Heritage Rail Trail.

The Junction by Westwood will have a rear patio that Sexton's Pizza may use, as well as other tenants, after the Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission on March 11 approved it by a 7-0 vote.

The patio and potentially a bocce ball court would be built partly on city-owned land, for which a land lease or easement would be obtained, Warnock said.

The approval included a condition that requires a written agreement granted by the city for the proposed patio to encroach onto city property, subject to the approval of the law director, said David Ball, director of communications for Hilliard.

Warnock said he also is in discussions with several potential partners to further develop the parcel that would “add even more vibrancy” to Old Hilliard.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo