HARRISONBURG — Kathi Seymour was leery of the idea of running a combination pizza and doughnut shop.
When longtime friends Mike and Julie Westfall, who own The Bakers Dozen Donuts, approached Seymour about the idea, she wasn’t inclined to do so initially.
But then Seymour, who also worked in the Bakers Dozen traveling doughnut trailer, asked what kind of pizza shop the Westfalls were interested in.
The words Fox’s Pizza Den quickly changed Seymour’s mind about the endeavor.
“I’m originally from northern Pennsylvania, so I grew up with Fox’s,” Seymour said of the Murrysville, Pa.-based franchise. “There was one in like every town. That’s what you got every Friday night.”
On Jan. 20, the Westfalls, of Tenth Legion, reopened the shuttered Fox’s Pizza on Virginia Avenue and Mount Clinton Pike near Eastern Mennonite University with Seymour as the restaurant’s manager. The Fox’s Pizza location had been closed for more than a year.
After getting their pizza-making skills nailed down, the Westfalls incorporated doughnuts into the mix and began selling Bakers Dozen’s signature treats out of Fox’s Pizza on Monday.
“It kind of brings together these two groups,” Julie Westfall said of the respective fans of Fox’s and Bakers. “Doughnuts and pizza — that just puts a smile on everyone’s face.”
The dining room seats about 60 people and highlights work by local artists.
The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the business during an open house from noon to 1 p.m. on Feb. 18.
Bakers Dozen has built up a following in the 2½ years it’s been serving up potato doughnuts made from scratch using locally sourced ingredients.
The Westfalls got into the business when friends at the Broadway Farmers Market asked Julie Westfall, a former employee of Rosetta Stone, if she’d make doughnuts for the Saturday market.
Bakers Dozen grew from there.
Last year, the Westfalls began looking for a permanent storefront from which they could expand their business.
“We really wanted to get into a space, but we wanted to make sure it was the right place,” Julie Westfall said.
The Fox’s Pizza Den on Virginia Avenue hit their radar, and from there everything fell into place, the Westfalls say.
Seymour wasn’t the only early fan of Fox’s Pizza.
Mike Westfall, who owned a landscaping company before going into the doughnut business full time, said it was well worth making the drive to the location in Brandywine, W.Va.
“There aren’t too many places I’d drive over the mountain just for pizza,” he said.
In addition to the food, the culture of the Fox’s Pizza Den company also made it attractive to the Westfalls and Seymour, they say.
“They’re still small,” Seymour said. “It doesn’t feel corporate.”
It’s a culture that’s conducive to the family business, which employees the Westfalls’ daughter, Sabrina, 17, and son, Tanner, 14.
Eventually, they hope to expand the business to offer more baked goods and breakfast.
Looking ahead, Julie Westfall hopes to be serving the same customers in 20 years.
“I want to be a part of the community,” she said, “for a long time.”
Contact Jeremy Hunt at 574-6273 or firstname.lastname@example.org