Families looking to treat their entire clan to an inexpensive but delicious meal out — with precautions against the coronavirus — would be wise to head to the recently opened Spanky’s Homemade Pizza & Bar at 7118 Bellaire Blvd.
The gooey and bubbling cheesy pizza is homemade from scratch on the premises – the dough and the sauce. It comes out of the oven as a hot and inviting meal that is offered in several versions with various toppings, along with a variety of other appetizing entrees.
This is the third Spanky’s location by family-owned and operated Ram Rock, LLC company, and they were drawn to the area because the owners have ties to the Sharpstown and Bellaire areas.
“I grew up in the Sharpstown area, and I thought it was time to bring a family pizza restaurant to the area,” owner John Mariner explained. “We want to give a full dining experience at a modest price, sort of like a ‘poor man’s’ Carraba’s. We give a lot of value and generous portions.”
He co-owns the three locations, as well as several Gabby’s BBQ restaurants throughout the city, with the other founder and his partner, Frank Roche. The second generations of their own families are involved in the business, with Holly Waters and Robin Sweeney working for the company full time.
“It’s a family owned business that our own family is involved in and that is the reason we want to appeal other families for a great dining experience,” Waters said.
The brand new, free-standing building in Sharpstown is colorful and inviting, and separates the dining area from the bar area, while offering large-screen televisions as well. Architects were Eubanks Group Architects’ Holly Gervais and Michael Dreef and the design and décor were done by Laurie Mariner and Marissa Mariner Womble, relatives of John Mariner.
Their 2,200-square-foot kitchen is capable of enormous output and the site will be run by general manager Chris Michaels, formerly of Chili’s.
Pizza patrons can choose original thin crust, New York style, deep dish, whole wheat thin crust or crustless Keto in four sizes, including an individual serving. Toppings range from the standard meats to a more exotic Hawaiian pizza with ham and pineapple, and barbecue chicken. Vegetarian options are plentiful as well and the veggie pizza is chock full of veggies including mushrooms, two kinds of olives and green peppers.
“Everyone loves pizza, and our pizza is what keeps everyone coming back,” Waters said. “But we offer a little something for everyone.”
Other signature dishes include pasta specialties such as lasagna, fettuccini alfredo, chicken parmesan, spaghetti and meatballs, as well as hamburgers, salads, and other sandwiches. According to Waters, they have loyal fans who are partial to their wings. Their bar specialties include a popular margarita as well as other cocktails and 10 beers on tap.
Offering daily specials, and a happy hour menu, they are very value conscious, which Mariner said is especially important for customers in these tough times.
Noting that pandemic isn’t the best time to open a new eat-in restaurant, Mariner said the new business comes with precautions against COVD-19. He pointed to the widely spaced-apart seating with protective barriers in the spacious, 8,000-square-foot restaurant. They offer delivery services, curbside pickup and do a brisk to-go business — a third of their business is take-out.
“For dining in, we are following all safety protocols, following city guidelines and maintaining the 50 percent maximum (capacity) at this time,” Mariner said. “We had our building ready and our staff trained, and did not want to delay opening and have the staff not working. Our other restaurants are doing well, so we figured, build it and they (customers) will come.”
Spanky’s looks forward to the day when large groups of family members can gather there for celebrations or just to dine together, and their floor plan allows for a lot of flexibility for re-arranging seating for large parties. The owners say their loyal customer base from their other two locations has been visiting them for the 44 years they’ve been open, and 90 percent return.
With this new restaurant, the owners are looking forward to being part of the Sharpstown and Bellaire neighborhood and part of a new tradition of family dining for area residents.
“We welcome neighborhood groups such as baseball teams and local schools and help with fundraisers for those and other organizations,” Mariner said. “We have a beautiful patio and we are committed to keeping everyone comfortable, safe, and well fed.”
Spanky’s Homemade Pizza & Bar
7118 Bellaire Blvd.
— By Arlene Nisson Lassin