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Pizzeria owner to open new pub

041119Tipsy-Tomato
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Tipsy Tomato owner Angelo Carlone turns a cheese pizza while cooking it in the pizza oven Tuesday at the pizzeria at Rocky Mount Mills.

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BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Staff Writer

Thursday, April 11, 2019

A pizzeria owner on the Rocky Mount Mills campus is eyeing opening a second business in what was an English-style pub in downtown Tarboro.

Angelo Carlone, 30, owner and operator of the Tipsy Tomato, said his plan is to transform the former Underground into the Humble Knuckles. Carlone said the Humble Knuckles is going to be a tap room offering lots of local craft beers and is going to be somewhat like a gourmet delicatessen.

The Underground, which was a play on the London subway system, had been serving patrons in the basement of the Bridgers Building at the corner of Church and Main streets in the Edgecombe County seat. The Underground has been out of business for slightly more than a couple of years.

Carlone said his hope is to have the Humble Knuckles set up by the end of June or by mid-July.

“We’re kind of in the preliminary stages,” he said.

At the same time, he said, “I think that people will be happy to have us there.”

Carlone cited the Bridgers Building as an attraction. The structure once served as the offices of Henry Clark Bridgers Sr., who had established what was the East Carolina Railroad.

Carlone emphasized just as Bridgers long ago connected communities with the railway system, “We’re trying to achieve the same thing by bringing small businesses together in different counties.”  

Carlone said that in addition to downtown Tarboro, he had eyed downtown Rocky Mount and downtown Wilson as possible places to open a second business.

In the end, Carlone said, "I felt like Tarboro was the next step for us."

He specifically credited the support he received in downtown Tarboro as a factor.

"I think that that led us to making that decision easier.,” he said. “They really welcomed us with open arms — and the community has been great so far. So we're eager to get started."

Tina Parker, who is coordinator of the Main Street revitalization program in downtown Tarboro, in an email expressed excitement that the Tipsy Tomato is in the planning process to expand its current footprint.

Parker said she met with the Tipsy Tomato’s business team, listened to their plan, shared pertinent information with them and provided assistance.

"We look forward to their continued development on the project, for their opening day and providing continuous support," she said.

Attorney Jim Marrow of Tarboro, who's the landlord of the Bridgers Building, was careful in tone yet optimistic when reached by phone.

"I think he's got a lot of plans and they're all coming together but I don't think there's anything you can put your finger on as completed yet,” Marrow said of Carlone. “But he's moving along." 

Marrow spoke of the wait for the right person to want to do something with the former Underground.

"And Angelo has come up and he has got an idea. And so we're going to see how far this goes," he said. "We're coming together." 

The Underground has gone through different operators and workers since it was first opened by Dave Palakanis in 2007.

The next year, Palakanis locked the door and announced the business was for sale because his wife wanted to pursue a career opportunity out of state.

Marrow said the place was a great little pub for a time when Jonathan Mlyniec, a New Englander, was the bartender, and said the place offered fine beers. 

Marrow said Mlyniec eventually had to return to his native region due to family obligations.

Marrow said the Underground operated for a time with what he called “tag-team college kids” as bartenders and said the problem was such people did not have the same investment in the location. 

And while he is pleased the location appears to be heading in the right direction in terms of having a new tenant, he said, "I do miss my pub."

"It was nice that Tarboro had a bar, which essentially was like a bar you would walk into in New York or Washington, D.C., in terms of what was offered," he said.

The Tipsy Tomato opened in 2017 and also sells craft beers.

Prior to opening the Tipsy Tomato, Carlone had Angelo's Pizza off North Wesleyan Boulevard.

Carlone originally planned to keep Angelo's Pizza open but decided to close that business down to concentrate solely on the Tipsy Tomato.

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