A Toppers pizza franchise planned for Duluth's East Hillside neighborhood will not only be the first of its kind in the Twin Ports. It's likely to also be the first pizza place in Twin Ports history to co-exist with a harpmaker.
A March opening is planned for Toppers at 1231 E. Ninth St., owner Jordan DeCaro said on Friday. The unpretentious building in a mostly residential neighborhood is formerly the home of David Kortier Harpmaker, which for more than 20 years has crafted Irish harps by hand.
"We purchased the building from him in September," DeCaro said. "That's going to be our primary space, where he was building the harps."
For the time being, Kortier still is working out of the back half of the building, DeCaro said.
Kortier could not be reached before this story went to print.
This will be the first of three Toppers he plans for the Twin Ports, DeCaro said, and he has hopes of opening all three this year. Details haven't been finalized, but a Superior franchise likely will open in the summer, followed by a second Duluth location in the fall, he said.
He'd like the latter to be in West Duluth or Lincoln Park, said DeCaro, a Duluth native.
The 1231 E. Ninth St. location will be the 83rd for Whitewater, Wis.-based Toppers, DeCaro said.
Although the opening date isn't firm, DeCaro said it won't be while the University of Minnesota Duluth is on spring break. The plan is to open in a big way, and the more college students in town, the better.
"The first 50 people get free pizza for a year," he said. "We want to have a bunch of people there on that grand opening day."
His business partner is John Matko, who previously worked as a chef at Essentia Health's Hearthstone Cafe and at the Northland Country Club, DeCaro said.
Toppers is known for fresh ingredients, late hours and fast delivery, he said. "To your door in 25 minutes or less is basically what we look for."
Indoor seating will be limited, but a concrete patio has been created to provide additional seating outside when the weather allows, DeCaro said. The back lot will be paved to provide parking.
DeCaro, 24, was part of the last graduating class at Central High School in 2011. His father, Angelo DeCaro, formerly owned and operated University Liquor and now manages liquor operations for Super One stores.
As soon as he graduated from high school, Jordan DeCaro went for his real estate license. He has worked in that field since. "Last summer I looked at what the market was like and I thought, 'I'm going to diversify and get into the restaurant business,' " he said.
Even in a market that's crowded with pizza places, DeCaro said there's a place for a different franchise.
"We're going to bring something different and unique," he said. "Duluth in my opinion is super unique, and I think they go together really well."
To learn more
You can learn about Toppers pizza at toppers.com.