JACKSON HOLE, WYO – It’s hard to believe Teton Theatre has been closed for almost five years. Trivia buffs may remember the last movie to flicker the big screen at the historic theater was “End of Watch.” Not long after the theater went dark, Cadillac Grille owners Ken Rominger and Suzanne Marino transferred their liquor license to 120 N. Cache—the address of the 76-year-old theater—fueling speculation it would become a restaurant.
Nothing ever came of that liquor license, the rumors all but quieted, and the dusty old cinema was forgotten. Until recently.
Construction work at the theater began late last year and is nearing completion. Phone calls to the building’s landlord, Robert Gill, provided no insight. Rumors started up again. California Pizza Kitchen was the latest.
Teton Theatre will, indeed, be the home of a pizza parlor, but it won’t be a chain. Buckrail sat down with the two men behind Hand Fire Pizza last week to learn of the exciting new chapter in the theater’s storied history.
Owners Martin Brass and pizza pro Paul Cucchiarelli explained their vision for Jackson’s newest pizza place and what inspired them to open it here.
“I’ve been looking to do something in Jackson Hole for five or six years now,” Brass said. “We didn’t want to force our way into this community. It had to be the right fit.”
Brass said he was careful in considering a business venture in the valley. He’d been visiting Jackson Hole often and knew this is where he wanted to move his family. It was less about opening a business here, and more about waiting for the right opportunity to finally call this place home.
When the theater became an option, Brass remembers standing in front of the building in awe.
“You have all this stonework and that iconic marquee out front. How many theaters still have those?” Brass recalled. “And then you look to the right, there’s Snow King. You look left and there is the gateway north to the Tetons.”
It’s this regard for place that inspires Brass—from interior design to menu options for the new eatery—the owners say they want to fit in here with respect to the community and its rich western heritage. To wit, Brass is intent on retaining elements of the old theater he hopes the community cherishes as much as he does. The marque will stay. So will the ticket booth.
Brass and Cucchiarelli have also sampled every pizza in the valley. They know what’s out there. They believe what they offer is something different enough to garner a loyal following. Cucchiarelli explained Hand Fire will source all ingredients they can, locally and organically. They’ve already been talking with Vertical Harvest.
Brass envisions the pizzeria to be a restaurant style, family dinner establishment. It will be very roomy, he said. The space once accommodated a 300-seat movie theater.
Hand Fire Pizza hopes to open this summer.