Photo: Christi Robinson (center, black top, holding ribbon) and her husband Chris Robinson (holding scissors) welcome members of The Chamber of Gadsden and Etowah County and elected officials to Blackstone Pizza Kitchen’s official ribbon cutting on August 26, 2020 at 1321D Noccalula Road in Gadsden.
By Katie Bohannon, News Editor
A downtown Gadsden treasure recently expanded to Noccalula Falls. Blackstone Pub & Eatery’s owners Christi and Chris Robinson introduced Blackstone Pizza Kitchen in late August, welcoming customers to a new location filled with old favorites.
Although some locals might recall the Subway neighboring Exchange Bank on the mountain, 1321D Noccalula Road now houses Blackstone Pizza Kitchen. While the restaurant has only been open for a few weeks, business is booming, and the excitement in the air is undeniable. The Robinsons celebrated their new addition with a ribbon cutting hosted by The Chamber of Gadsden and Etowah County on Wednesday, August 26 to officially commemorate the milestone.
Several Gadsden officials were present at the ribbon cutting to express their delight and support at the restaurant’s arrival, including Gadsden City Councilman and District 7 Representative Ben Reed and Etowah County Commissioner and District 4 Representative Tim Ramsey. Both Reed and Ramsey welcomed the Robinsons’ business to the Falls, thanking the couple for their efforts to uplift the community and commending them on their success.
“About a year ago, we began writing a plan for expanding to other locations in Etowah County, and it was our intention that the Noccalula Falls area be the first of those,” said Christi. “We love this area and really want to see other entrepreneurs bring their businesses to this area. We enjoy making good food and sharing it with others – owning a restaurant allows us to do both of those things at the same time.”
Blackstone Pizza Kitchen will not venture far from its Broad Street location menu. The restaurant will continue serving the same delicious salads, pizzas, quesadillas and nachos featured on the original menu, but customers can look forward to signature items available exclusively on Noccalula Falls. Hungry visitors can indulge their cravings with new sandwiches, ice cream and milkshakes. In addition, the Robinsons eliminated alcohol completely from the business model for the Falls location.
Despite the changes, Blackstone Pizza Kitchen refuses to budge on its ingredients, always including the highest quality loyally sourced staples for each mouth-watering recipe.
“All our produce is locally grown from Owls Hollow Farms,” said Chris. “We cut it fresh daily – our bell peppers, our cilantro, our basil. That’s why our pizzas taste a little better…there is nothing coming out of a frozen bag.”
With a smaller building than Broad Street, the Pizza Kitchen’s layout is completely different. While Blackstone Pub & Eatery is a full-service eatery, Blackstone Pizza Kitchen will offer counter service. The pizza kitchen also features an outdoor eating space complete with bike racks, welcoming mountain bikers to relax with their favorite Blackstone bites after hitting the trails.
“We wanted to perpetuate the energy of the hiking, biking and running communities that have such an incredible presence on the Black Creek Trails,” said Christi. “We decided to create a very casual environment that includes subtle touches that focus on those activities as well as our beautiful Noccalula Falls Park and Campground.”
The Robinsons understand the importance of maintaining a deep connection with their community and they recognize that connection often involves monetary contributions. Blackstone Pizza Kitchen is committed to donating a portion of sales on certain days during special promotions to programs offered through area churches and schools.
“We want to give back,” said Chris. “We’re going to work with our teachers, our first responders and our churches.”
Donations will also be designated for the Friends of the Falls, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organized for the purpose of promoting, preserving and maintaining the scenic resources of the Falls and surrounding community, as Chris is the organization’s board president.
From Kris Catoe’s colorful mural painted across a statement wall to the comforting dishes that bring smiles to customers faces, the calm and inviting atmosphere at Blackstone Pizza Kitchen represents the people who dedicate themselves to serving their community, and the potential for even greater things to manifest. Through Blackstone Pizza Kitchen, the Robinsons’ hope to plant a seed to inspire other local entrepreneurs to expand their dreams and settle on Noccalula Mountain, creating a garden of local businesses that can flourish in Etowah County.
“We have Jack’s, which everybody loves Jack’s,” said Chris. “It’s our hometown, state fast-food restaurant; it’s awesome. We have Kati Thai up here. I think we’re a nice additive up here to the mountain pizza. After a little while, when people see us doing well, we might get a BBQ place and a taco place, and create a scene. That’s how it all happens.”
“Now, more than ever, we would like to say, ‘thank you’ to our customers,” said Christi. “We are incredibly grateful that they have loyally supported local businesses over the past few months, and we are beyond excited about serving even more customers at this new location.”
Blackstone Pizza Kitchen is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information on Blackstone Pizza Kitchen, call 256-467-2828 or visit Blackstone Pizza Kitchen on Facebook.