We are finally realizing more of our dream!! We've been in the pizza business now for over 14 years (This Jan will be 15 years). I blew my first piece of glass 6 years ago this early summer. Shortly after beginning to blow glass, I wanted to decorate our restaurant with the glass. I wanted to blow my own pendant lights, and put all sorts of glass in our restaurant to make it look beautiful. A little while later, we (the fam) decided "How cool would it be if we had our glass blowing studio and restaurant under the same roof. People could come in and eat great Italian food and in the same building watch us create Italian Art. (For centuries, the best blown glass on the planet came out of Murano in Italy) We have been cultivating, developing, and pursuing that quest for over 5 years now. When we came up with the idea, we had never heard of that being done anywhere! Later, we heard of a place in Vermont called Simon Pearce. To the best of our knowledge the only place that comes close to what we have wanted to do is Simon Pearce, who has a restaurant and glass studio on the same grounds. The glass that they blow however seems to be only clear and seem to be primarily functional pieces whereas ours has lots of color and much of what we do I consider to be "art glass" but we blow functional pieces as well. Having said that, it truly seems to be first class in every way! One of these days, I think we will try to make it up there to take a look at it in person. Our hats are off to Simon Pearce!
At times it looked impossible! Starting a glass studio is not easy. Neither is operating a restaurant. (A banker told me one time that the statistics show that less than 2 out of 100 "mom & pop" restaurants that start are still in business five years later!) I don't know the stats on a glass blowing studio. But the good news is, we are now moving toward realizing that dream at a pretty fast pace.
Work has already started on the deconstruction and renovation of our new place! Our new place will house both Italian Jim's and the glass studio together. Right now Italian Jim's occupies about 2400-2500 square feet. Our new place will be 6,500 square feet. We are really excited about it. We are going to be right in downtown Edmond, OK. I will be giving more specifics about the restaurant and the studio later with some photos taken during the construction.