Punch Pizza burns into Stadium Village

Soon to come to Stadium Village: an 800-degree wood oven that can cook a pizza in less than 90 seconds. Local pizza chain Punch Pizza plans to bring its pizza to the University of Minnesota, and has been leasing the former Manhattan Loft space on Washington Avenue Southeast since December 2007, landlord Bill Nicklow said . âÄúWeâÄôve been looking for many years,âÄù Owner John Puckett said. The building has been vacant since April 2007, when a history of rent disputes and eviction notices came to a head and the Manhattan Loft owners handed over their keys. Puckett said he is unsure when the new restaurant will open due to the construction of Campus Crossroads on the same street. With the new stadium, as well as other additions to the University, the Stadium Village location attracted PunchâÄôs attention. âÄúWeâÄôve found that we do very well in urban neighborhoods,âÄù he said. âÄúThe combination of a dense, urban neighborhood, college students and the hospital makes it really attractive to us.âÄù The new restaurant will be the seventh Punch location in the Twin Cities metro areas. Puckett said he often visits the University because they make their dough in a loft on the Mississippi River, and he said he sees the large student market nearby. âÄúI love that corner,âÄù he said. âÄúI just like that energy. You canâÄôt help but see the line of people in Chipotle all day.âÄù Even with Papa JohnâÄôs and DominoâÄôs Pizza nearby, Campus Pizza owner Jim Rosvold said there is plenty of room for competition within Stadium Village. âÄúItâÄôs like an auto mall: YouâÄôve got your Cadillacs , youâÄôve got your Chryslers , youâÄôve got your Fords. TheyâÄôre all cars but theyâÄôre all different types,âÄù he said. Although Rosvold said he doesnâÄôt think Stadium Village needs another pizza shop, he said he will welcome them to the community. âÄúItâÄôs nice to see a smaller, independent chain come in,âÄù he said. âÄúStadium Village has been so dominated in the last 10 years by chains, big chains.âÄù University sophomore Jeff Helseth said he has been to the Wayzata Punch Pizza location and will probably visit the new location when it opens. âÄúI like how they have the wood oven,âÄù Helseth said. âÄúI just like the different kind of flavor.âÄù Puckett said the new location is a little too big and the restaurant plans on subleasing an extra 900 square feet to an interested co-tenant. When Punch opens, Puckett hopes to see a large amount of foot traffic, especially with the large projects being complete. âÄúWeâÄôre just really excited to be part of the University,âÄù he said.