Pizza and Arcade Joint in Tennessee is ready for takeoff | Tennessee News

By MARINA WATERS, Kingsport Times-News

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (AP) — Joel Blevins is ready to launch Model City into a retro arcade and pizza galaxy far, far away.

Blevins’ new venture, Galaxy Pizza, is not light years away, however. His space-themed pizzeria and arcades can be found on Memorial Boulevard in the Indian Springs area, where he aims to combine his love of quality pizza with retro arcade games suitable for the whole family.

“We want to break the pizzeria mold and do something different,” Blevins said sitting in a retro booth as various arcade sounds beeped and chimed behind him. “It seemed like we were always driving from Johnson City or Bristol for my boys to do whatever. I said, ‘You know, we could open our own house.’ ”

Blevins opened Galaxy Pizza just over two months ago and has since seen guests eager for retro arcade games like “Pac-Man”, “Centipede”, “The Simpsons” and other joystick-laden machines. that border the left wall of the company.

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The sound effects of each game still fill the air like they could be in a 70s arcade and pizzeria. The only difference is that Galaxy Pizza’s games are free and free from the noise of quarters rolling in the next machine .

“They are all free. A lot of people don’t know that. They come here with coin rolls for the arcade. Then they ask, ‘Can I pay for a pizza in these?’ laughed Blevins. “I tell them it’s okay. I won’t need to go to the bank for a while.

When the business owner decided to open Galaxy Pizza, he had a goal. He wanted to focus on a family-centric place for children, like his sons, aged 13 and 7, to enjoy.

“We try to meet the needs of children,” Blevins said. “That’s why we don’t serve alcohol. Everyone does that. We try to stay family oriented. So I try to bring something to Kingsport for children. That was the whole base. The pizza was a secondary thing.

It might seem hard to imagine Blevins viewing the pizza component as an afterthought, given his background in what he calls “dough-slinging.”

Blevins’ space-themed arcade and restaurant offers New York-style pizza with an emphasis on made-from-scratch ingredients. He said he combined a lot of research with his experience delivering pizza and running a Pizza King store as a young man in Wise.

“It did a lot more business than the chains,” Blevins recalled. “I learned to stretch the dough, to open a ball of dough as they say, all that. But I had to understand and study how to make New York style pizza. I wanted to do something a little different. »

Blevins said he believes the crust and sauce are the two things that make his pizza a bit different.

“I think one of the main things people say when they come here is, ‘Wow, the crust is so different. My child actually ate the crust. We make fresh dough every morning,” Blevins said. “We make our own sauce. Many people say our sauce is so different. We do it the old fashioned way like they do in Italy with tomatoes. It’s as homemade as it gets.

Blevins said he plans to expand his pizza horizons in the future, building on wacky ideas like the Red Planet pizza — a New Jersey tomato pie-style pizza with a swirly look similar to the one from Mars – and the Martian Mac and Cheese pizza complete with green macaroni and cheese.

“We’re not afraid to push the envelope and do something crazy,” Blevins said. “Our goal is to have a pizza that no one else has that makes people say, ‘Wow, is that pizza?’ ”

Galaxy Pizza is also looking to incorporate themed nights at the restaurant and arcade, such as a Star Wars night with trivia and themed pies like a Ham Solo pizza inspired by the film series.

The restaurant also offers birthday parties, special family pizzas, lunch specials, and other menu items like subs, calzones, and dessert pizzas.

But Blevins said he didn’t want to get too comfortable. the company owner said that when considering the future of Galaxy Pizza, it would likely include expansion.

“We want to expand into this building here. There is a 6,000 square foot open building (next door). I would like to develop this. It’s literally set up for an arcade there. We want more seats. Evenings can be (crowded) as this place is so small. So we want to do something bigger.

The space-meets-arcade theme is well supported by the company’s black and blue interior with various TVs playing Marvel and Star Wars movies in the background. For Blevins, the theme is also reminiscent of his band, Black Star Sanctuary, which includes some of his best friends who also work at Galaxy Pizza.

The theme also offers that “sky’s the limit” mindset that Blevins has built into his expansion dreams.

“I’m just a big space nerd,” Blevins said, wearing a black Galaxy Pizza shirt. “I’ve always loved that. A lot of arcades have themes. It’s usually some sort of space theme. But it’s an imaginary thing. Space is unheard of. The sky’s the limit.”

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