The Keefe family, owners of the Route 28 Roadhouse in Londonderry, have taken on an additional venture and opened a pizzeria in Windham.
“It looked like a bit of a challenge because we had never done pizza before, but the ovens were there, then we got connections for the dough, ideas for sauce …. So we decided to give it a shot for a year,” Thelma Keefe said.
Tucked away inside the Oasis Gas & Mini-Mart, 57 Rockingham Road, Windham, the Chatham Grill, owned and operated by Keefe and her husband Mike, who still run the Roadhouse, opened in mid-July.
“There is a good amount of traffic that goes through here; this place is pretty busy all day,” said their son Steve Keefe, who serves as grill manager. “It’s tough right now to build a business, but so far it has been getting better and better every week.”
While the eatery’s menu is simple — pizza, subs, calzones, burgers (all weighing in at a half pound), fried appetizers and salads — Steve Keefe said it stands out from the pack as all of the offerings are homemade, hand-breaded and not frozen. Also, much of the eatery’s produce, meat and dough is sourced locally.
“People ask if our food is frozen and are excited to find out it’s not — which is weird because it should be that way,” Steve Keefe said.
Thelma Keefe’s mother showed her the ropes in the kitchen growing up and she is using her mother’s potato salad and cole slaw recipes as side dishes on the grill’s menu. The eatery’s meatballs, offered in subs, calzones and as pizza topping, are a mixture of Thelma Keefe’s and her mother’s recipes.
The grill’s many pizza topping options are items the Keefe family enjoys, things their friends like and things that are popular at other area pizzerias. “We can pretty much put anything on them,” Steve Keefe said, adding he was able to meet one customer’s unusual request of a pizza topped with pepperoni, sausage, hamburger and french fries, baked with extra cheese on top.
The eatery also plans to offer seasonal and holiday specials, Steve Keefe said. For Halloween, the restaurant ran such specials as the Howling Muenster Burger (with muenster cheese and bacon, served on an onion roll) and Dracula’s Burger (with provolone, cheddar and mozzarella, topped with marinara sauce). Steve Keefe said a Thanksgiving sandwich, filled with roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy, is already in the works.
Among their other most recent menu offerings are a chicken bomb sub, made with chopped chicken breast, onions, peppers, mushrooms, American cheese, listed on chalkboard boasting a chicken holding on to a rocket, and the “Lucky 7s” pizza, topped with pepperoni, onions, peppers, sausage, hamburger, mushrooms and black olives, for $7.77.
The idea behind the grill’s moniker was two-fold as the Keefe family lives on Chatham Circle in Salem and used to frequently visit Chatham, Mass., to attend Chatham Anglers baseball games. The family connection has only grown stronger at the grill as both Thelma and Mike, their six children and grandchildren all play a role at the grill.
“It’s great. They really get into it,” Thelma Keefe said. “Every one of them has a different talent and input.”