Detroit based franchise Jet’s Pizza drew a steady crowd with their official grand opening celebration on Saturday August 30th in the new Town Park shopping center where Publix Super Markets recently unveiled their newly designed 64,231 square foot East Orlando location.
By Jacob Engels
As someone who grew up in Michigan and spent time in the Detroit area, I was thrilled to hear that Jet’s Pizza would be opening several Central Florida area stores in 2014, including one in my backyard on East Colonial. So when they asked us to swing by and grab a bite & check out their grand opening, I was excited to say the least.
Jet’s Pizza, which has over 350 eateries nationwide, is known for its deep dish style pizzas and flavored crust. Jet’s has an extremely diverse menu that includes Jets Triple Cheese Turbo Stix, salads, and wings. The Jet’s Boats, their take on a calzone is phenomenal from what I remember.
As I am a vegetarian, I decided to bring along a few friends to help give me their take on the carnivore friendly options.
After consulting with the owner, Nathan Palmer, local filmmaker-photographer Jason Jack Underwood and myself opted for the veggie deep dish pizza with Cajun crust. UCF Film grad Mike Collins, who now does consulting for Florida Hospital settled on a half BBQ chicken, half buffalo chicken deep dish with the Cajun crust as well. His girlfriend and very talented film producer Lacie Ratliff snagged the meatball Jet’s Boat. Ratliff helps run the UCF Film programs equipment room under the direction of the venerable Jon Bowen, the film programs Senior Broadcast Technologist.
Jet’s also sells indivudual slices of pizza daily.
“This crust is amazing. Most Cajun crusts are either too hot or not hot enough, but theirs is right where it needs to be. The toasted crust perfectly accentuates the Cajun flavoring,” said Collins.
Our veggie deep dish is quite possibly the best pizza I’ve had in a while, and even better than I remember it being from my upbringing in the Michigan. The Cajun crust was very authentic tasting, and had a true New Orleans vibe to it.
“Normally, I am looking for imperfections to point out when I try a new restaurant – but as soon as I took that first bite of the BBQ chicken and buffalo chicken deep dish, I decided this is my new go to place. It’s close to school, not to far from the house, and they deliver,” described Ratliff as we walked around the parking lot which was sectioned off for a bounce house and other vendors celebrating the grand opening of Jet’s and TJ’s Seafood Shack, which kindly let us sit inside and enjoy our meal instead of having to sweat it out on the patio.
The parking lot was packed with locals, who were there to grab a free slice of pizza and hush puppies from TJ’s among other giveaways and goodies. Despite it being close to 100 degrees and not a cloud in the sky, people looked satisfied and excited to learn about the two new restaurants.
Even in the scorching heat, people lined up for a slice.
Nathan Palmer, who owns the East Orlando location said that his background is in commercial real estate. He said that himself and two others plan to open three locations in Central Florida this year.
“I also have another Jet’s over in St. Pete that has been serving our local community there now for a little over 6 years,” Palmer explained. While he was giving us a tour of the new location, Palmer told us that they have their own unique flour and that all their cheese is freshly grated from blocks, not pre packaged and shredded.
“Papa Johns, and a lot of our other competitors order the shredded cheese in bulk instead of grating it from a block. We don’t do that because of the extra chemicals and preservatives that are put into those pre-packaged products, it’s all about freshness here.”
When it comes to things like the cheese, vegetables, and other food items that help accessorize menu items, Palmer uses a company based out of South Georgia that he has worked with in the past through his St. Pete location.
When I asked him how many people will be employed full-time and part-time, he said that he has 10 full-time employees at the East Orlando location and another 12-14 part-time, adding that he hopes to grow those numbers as the store takes route in the next few months.
Felt a lot of positive vibes from Palmer’s staff during our visit.
“Supporting local schools, from elementary to collegiate is a big part of what we do here at Jet’s, and it’s one of my favorite aspects. Giving back to the community whether it’s though a friendly work environment and meaningful employment for my staff, or providing some of our wonderful menu items for the students and teachers, it’s just wonderful to help out,” concluded Palmer as we exited with the rest of our food to go.
Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org