For those who are longing for a true and authentic pizza experience in Kitsap County, look no further than local restauranteur Will Grant’s recently opened Sourdough Willy’s Pizzeria in downtown Kingston.
The long-awaited restaurant is now open along Highway 104 in downtown Kingston right beside the ferry dock, the same location that the Kingston staple Drifters Galley & Sports Bar called home for many years. Grant, who has opened 13 restaurants, including running and owning Bainbridge’s That’s A Some Pizza, decided to bring his own flare of a pizzeria back to the town where he was raised, and in doing so hopefully bring a bit of joy to a community dealing with the hardships of a global pandemic.
“It’s been a great kind of homecoming because everyone’s been waiting so long for it and things have been so hard for so long here,” Grant said. “It’s been neat to see the community come out. I think it’s arguably the best location in the county. I get to do something positive for people, I get to sell happiness.”
This isn’t the first time the Grant family has delved into the Kingston restaurant scene, as That’s A Some Pizza originally opened back in 1984 where the local laundromat currently stands. Soon after, That’s A Some Pizza opened its second location in Bainbridge, which is still currently operational on Coppertop Loop. Upon the Grant family moving to Bainbridge Island, they sold the original location in Kingston.
Grant has been helming operations at the Bainbridge pizzeria for about the last 15 years and gained ownership of the restaurant back in 2016. With the new Kingston location, Grant is pleased with the amount of space he has and intends to open a pizza school in the back portion of the restaurant. Currently, only the front half of the pizzeria is open as the back end is still undergoing construction.
According to Grant, the school will include professional pizza-making classes with renowned international chefs that he has met over his career, as well as business classes pertaining to running and sustaining a pizzeria.
“When I took over ownership, I went to this pizza school in California. I wanted to take things to the next level. If you’re not growing you’re dying,” he said.
When he was about 10 years old, Grant and his family traveled to Europe, visiting Italy, France, and Germany where he began to discover his passion and curiosity for pizza making. Before long, the restauranteur apprenticed under five chefs over a five-year span. At 24-years-old, Grant opened Dino’s Pizzeria in Port Ludlow before selling it and moving to the east coast, finding that the business wasn’t doing as well as he’d hoped.
“I kind of just needed a change in my life and a change of pace,” he said. “I learned a lot over there about the corporate side of things and then after that, I came back.”
Since then, Grant has become a competitive chef by joining the World Pizza Championship team and won best pizza in America in 2017, as the sole competitor to use a sourdough starter. According to Grant, the sourdough baking process sees bacteria feeding upon the simple sugars in the flour and producing acid and gas. The acid is what gives the sourdough its characteristic flavor and the gas leavens the dough. Grant uses a 120-year-old Sourdough starter to make his dough.
“It’s the oldest form of baking bread in the world,” Grant said. “A lot of these old ways and traditions have been lost over the years. It actually makes them much more digestible, it’s a lighter product. You can eat a lot of pizza and not get full.”
To start, Sourdough Willy’s is offering two kinds of pizza styles — Sicilian and Detroit. Sicilian-style is a pan-style pizza risen for two days and baked twice before serving in a 16-inch square pan. Detroit-style is raised for two days and twice-baked like the Sicilian style but baked in a narrower 14 by 10-inch pan to make sure every slice has a piece of its signature crust.
“Imagine the best grilled cheese sandwich you’ve ever had in your life with some pizza toppings on it, that’s Detroit style,” Grant said.
Down the line, Grant said more pizza styles will be available as the business continues to construct more space in the back where another pizza oven will be installed. Other items such as flatbread sandwiches will be sold along with beer and wine.
“We try to be as local as possible,” he said. “These are our neighbors and relatives. In this time more than ever we have to support our neighbors.”
Having already opened 13 restaurants in his career, Grant said more are possible in the future, but for now, wants to devote his attention to his new pizzeria and school in downtown Kingston.