By Crystal Burns
After six months of renovations, Scott Rabb has opened Scott’s Pizza & Kitchen in a familiar haunt on Court Square in Trenton.
“There’s no other place like it in Gibson County,” Rabb said proudly.
Scott’s Pizza opened its doors in the former O’Brien’s on Sept. 2 and has been slammed in its three weeks of operation. The restaurant and tavern combine a family dining atmosphere with a casual bar setting, featuring nine beers on tap and a variety in bottles. Rabb has applied for his license to sell liquor by the drink and said that approval could come in about three weeks.
Rabb purchased the former O’Brien’s in January. He moved to Trenton in 2006 and said the first time he walked into the bar, he told his wife, “I’d really like to own this place one day.” But after O’Brien’s closed, Rabb didn’t pursue the building because he would not have been able to sell beer on Court Square.
When changes to city ordinances made it possible to re-open the bar, Rabb jumped at the opportunity. Renovations, most of which he did himself, were extensive.
“I brought it to the dirt,” he said. “It took a long time, and that had nothing to do with any delays but my own.”
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic did affect his ability to get the building supplies he needed. It also canceled the food show season, which Rabb said is where he gets most of the ideas for his menu.
The new floor features artwork, quotes, and signatures from Rabb’s family and friends, as well as drawings from local families. His wife, Minnie, used photos of the renovations to add personal touches to the tables.
He said two of the things that customers seem to appreciate most are the changing table in the family restroom and the smoke-free environment.
Rabb kept the front of the restaurant more traditional and made the back more modern, but he considers the color scheme to be classical. He said he doesn’t want to create a party bar, but a casual place to have a drink after work, as well as a family-friendly restaurant where children and their parents can watch Rabb toss pizza dough through the glass windows that lead to the kitchen. He said the glass serves as his window to the world, his command center and television.
While Rabb’s original dream was to recreate the bar that his mother owned in Chicago when he was younger, his reputation as an excellent pizza chef changed everything.
“The food put us here,” Rabb said. “If the food wasn’t any good, I wouldn’t be here.”
Rabb is considering building a second kitchen next door just to handle to-go orders. Currently, he offers dine in and carry out and utilizes technology to make ordering easy for customers. Diners can order by phone at their tables by scanning a QR code on the napkin dispenser or order at the kiosk. Rabb also has a handheld device he can take to local businesses to allow workers to order lunch and choose their pick-up time.
Traditional wait staff are also available to take orders.
On Oct. 5, Scott’s Pizza began its new hours of operation: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., and Sunday, opening at 12 p.m. with closing time to be determined.
The menu emphasizes authentic regional favorites, such as Chicago-style pizza, Vienna Italian beef sandwiches, Chicago-style hot dogs, and true Philly cheesesteak. Rabb never skimps on ingredients, something he says his employees and his customers appreciate.
“The support has been incredible,” Rabb said of his first three weeks at his new location. “It’s been fun. It really has.”
Rabb said he had three dreams – to be part of a community, open a restaurant, and renovate an old building. This year, he’s seen all three come true, but he has more work to do.
“I’m not done in downtown yet,” Rabb said. “This is just the beginning. I hope it’s a catalyst.”