Military Members Turned Restaurateurs Run Tenino Pizza Joint

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TENINO — One may see the name Brother’s Pizza & Brew and think the restaurant name is referring to siblings. In reality, brothers is used in two ways: brothers in arms and the brotherhood among motorcyclists.

Business partners Joseph Weingarten and Tim Thompson are both connected to the military; Weingarten served 22 years as a firearms instructor and in a ballistic missiles unit in the Navy while Thompson is an active-duty recruiter for the National Guard. Weingarten, who lives in Yelm, needed something to keep him busy post-retirement. 

Yelm already has a number of pizza places, but the two realized Tenino didn’t have a single pizza shop while they were cooking pizzas at events and festivals using two portable wood-fired ovens as a side business.

They found a brick-and-mortar location on Sussex Avenue West with a ‘For Rent’ sign on the window and opened their shop in December 2019. It was a little bumpy for a bit as the two had never owned a business before. On top of that, just four months in, COVID-19 hit.

It was actually kind of a blessing for Weingarten and Thompson. The store has a drive-through window but they didn’t want to utilize it for two reasons: one, they wanted people to eat in the restaurant, and two, the business partners are big on riding motorcycles and wanted to use the drive-through lane for motorcyclists to park their bikes and keep them safe from the main drag.

After the pandemic arrived, they soon found out the drive-through was actually really helpful. Customers were wary of coming inside to order or pick-up food, so the drive-through saved their business.

“That was a Godsend,” Weingarten said. “It helped us tremendously.”

Through March and April, Brother’s Pizza & Brew offered 15 percent off all their orders to give customers more reason to come out and feel they’re not having to spend more than what they can afford, especially with all the cut hours and job losses around that time. Once the pizza shop stopped giving the discounts, it had built a loyal fan base and business has been smooth ever since.

“We took care of them so they took care of us,” Weingarten said.

The shop is also military-friendly. It has a tribute wall covered in green camo netting that has dozens of photos of customers in their military uniforms. Any service member, active or non-active, is encouraged to pin their photo on the wall. Weingarten and Thompson even have photos of themselves on the wall. They also keep a tribute table to honor service members who are fallen or missing in action.

“We have a lot of brothers that we knew who died in combat or served and passed away, so this is kind of like our table for them,” Weingarten said.

The wall and tribute tables aren’t the only things that stand out. Brother’s Pizza & Brew makes all their dough handmade from scratch, and Thompson has even taught Weingarten how to be proficient in tossing the dough.

They offer six different 11-inch pizzas starting at $10, which is roughly a medium-sized pizza. Two varieties of 11-inch specialty pizzas go for a bit more. Fubar, which has pepperoni, canadian bacon, sausage and bacon bits on alfredo sauce goes for $15. Messkit has all the above with pepperoncinis and olives for $16. They also recently unveiled four types of 14-inch large family-sized pizzas that run for $16.

“Our main goal when we opened this place was to make inexpensive pizza,” Weingarten said. “Something that you’re not worrying about hitting your wallet hard. We feel that if we can feed our customers and offer them a great price, we’ll get more customers coming back.”

And for those seeing ‘brew’ in the name, the shop is not a brewery but does offer some domestic beers and IPAs along with a full selection of sodas. Weingarten hopes to link up with a couple local breweries in town and see if they can showcase some of their bottles in the restaurant.

The shop occasionally offers delivery, but only if Weingarten is in the shop while his two employees are working. He only delivers to Tenino and Bucoda. Brother’s Pizza & Brew is currently open 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday; 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday; and 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.

“We’re still here, we have a bunch of loyal customers and we’re constantly adding new pizzas and a new variety of other things,” Weingarten said.

More Information on Brother’s Pizza & Brew

Owner: Joseph Weingarten and Tim Thompson

Location: 324 Sussex Ave. W., Tenino

Phone: 360-264-4808

Hours: 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday; 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday; 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday

Facebook: facebook.com/brotherspizzaandbrew/

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