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Heard on the Street: BB's Pizzeria to take over Zpizza's downtown spot

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Look for a downtown Rochester pizza spot to change hands and move forward alphabetically in early 2018.

BB's Pizzeriais buying out Zpizzain the skyway level of the Shops at University Square mallin the core of the city.

"We wanted to keep it local down there. It was kind of a no-brainer," said Jason Brehmer, who co-owns BB's with Tom Boxrud.

The plan is to close the deal with Zpizza owner Deb VonWaldin the first days of January. There will be a short transition as they work to re-open as BB's Pizzeria Express, probably within a week or two.

While the name and types of pizzas will change, it looks like most of the eight employees that staff the eatery will not change.

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"We told all of the employees that we'd like them to stay on, if they want to," said Brehmer. "Most of them have been there for a long time. Potentially what will happen is that I'll learn as much or more from them as they will from me."

The VonWalds opened the Zpizza franchise in August 2007 looking to fill a need for more healthy lunch options in downtown.

Brehmer and Boxrud, both longtime veterans of the Med City pizza scene, launched the original BB's Pizzeria almost 11 years ago at 3456 East Circle Drive N.E. in the retail center in front of the CMX - Chateau Theater.

That has been a strong location for them, and they now have a team of 17 working there.

BB's has been interested in getting into downtown Rochester for a while. In the summer of 2015, they started operating a food truck to sell pizza to Mayo Clinicemployees and patients on their lunch hour.

That move stirred some opposition from downtown restaurateurs, ironically, with Zpizza's VonWald as one of the loudest critics.

Brehmer said they won't be driving the food truck downtown anymore, except possibly for the weekly Thursdays on First and Third street events.

"This is going to open a few more doors for us," he said.

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