Alley Cat Pizzeria: New owners spruce up but won’t be messing with great-grandma’s crowd-pleasing recipe

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The crew, from left, John Trabucco, Eliot Lawrence, Matthew Coutu, Darryl Erickson and Kevin Wenger. Photo/Stacy Harrison

MANCHESTER, NH – Popular Manchester pizza place Alley Cat Pizzeria reopened July 30 under new owners after about a month of remodeling. 

Darryl Erickson, the husband of Red Arrow Diner owner Carol Lawrence, and their nephew Eliot Lawrence purchased the business on July 3 from Jennifer Liane, who had owned it for the past seven years.

The Chestnut Street building is owned by Lawrence’s father Brian Lawrence, who first reached out to Erickson about buying the business. The space had fallen into some disrepair, Erickson said, and Liane was ready to move on.

Erickson, owns Darryl’s Stone Repair. Lawrence, 21, who is in the Army National Guard, previously worked as a manager at Guitar Center, and has long considered getting into business.

Moving target: John Trabucco spins some dough. Photo/Stacy Harrison

Erickson made an offer on the business at the end of April, and Lawrence subsequently decided he wanted to join Erickson as a partner and contacted his uncle about the idea.

“I grew up with Alley Cat, here in Manchester,” Lawrence said.

He said his great-grandmother actually helped to come up with the original pizza recipes when it first opened 25 years ago. 

“It stuck and obviously Manchester responded well to that recipe,” Lawrence said.

The plan is to never change that recipe and, for the time being, they will use the same menu.

Eliot Lawrence says his great-grandmother helped devise Alley Cat’s original pizza recipe 25 years ago. Photo/Stacy Harrison

Erickson said the pizza is New York-style, hand-tossed pizza with dough made from scratch, using the “best flour,” “best sauce” and Grande cheese.

Though the business has changed hands several times over the years, Lawrence said, it has consistently been voted one of the most popular pizzas in the city. Between various local publications, Alley Cat has been listed in the top spot each year for the past 17 years, he said.

An interior refresh was recently completed and Alley Cat is back in business, full swing. Photo/Stacy Harrison

Erickson said the business was closed during COVID-19 shutdowns from mid-March to about the end of April or early May. After that it reopened with limited hours. Then they closed it again in July after buying the business in order to install new equipment and renovate some infrastructure. 

Erickson estimates they spent about $60,000 to $70,000 in upgrades and new equipment, which included a new, bigger pizza oven and hood system. They rebuilt the front counter, replaced the sub station, installed new phones, point-of-sale system and ceiling tiles, fixed some of the walls and put in new light fixtures. 

Two guys and a pizza place: Eliot Lawrence, left, and Darryl Erickson are the new owners of Alley Cat Pizzeria. Photo/Stacy Harrison

Lawrence said the upgrades are expected to help improve productivity and efficiency so they can serve more customers faster.

Much of the space hadn’t been updated in 25 years, and Lawrence said the disrepair was of no fault of the previous owner Liane, who he said was a good steward of the business.

Some employees have been with the business for a long time. Lawrence said Russell Kagiliery has worked at Alley Cat for 19 years, John Trabucco has been there for 11 years and Kevin Wenger has worked there for four years.

Back in business at Alley Cat Pizzeria. Photo/Stacy Harrison

Alley Cat Pizzeria is located at 486 Chestnut St., Manchester. Phone number is 603-669-4533. Website: alleycatpizzerianh.com