Fire Engine Pizza Co. plans Milford opening at former firehouse

The old Melba Street firehouse at 204 Melba Street in Milford, Conn., is on its way toward becoming the Fire Engine Pizza Company.

The old Melba Street firehouse at 204 Melba Street in Milford, Conn., is on its way toward becoming the Fire Engine Pizza Company.

Jill Dion/Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD — Six years is a long time to wait for pizza, even if it is from a successful local place known for serving pies from a vintage firetruck.

But the wait appears to be nearing an end.

Martin McCarthy and his business partner Phil Segneri have received a building permit for the third location of Fire Engine Pizza Co. The two, who have locations in Shelton and Bridgeport, decided to add a Milford location in 2017, and bought the old Melba Street Firehouse at 204 Melba St. McCarthy said they are planning to open in early 2023.

"Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong, one of them being COVID, which didn't allow us to work on the Milford project for two years," said McCarthy. "We had financing issues, environmental issues, and had to go through zoning, which took time, and had to go for variances. Each roadblock that jumped out at us wasn't anything super out of the ordinary and didn't take extra long. It was just one thing after another. It's been a ride."

Even with everything the pair had to go through, McCarthy said the goal has always been to open in Milford.

"COVID was the biggest factor because we were almost at a complete standstill for the restaurant," he said. "But also, we had two other restaurants, and with the shortage of employees, we were all hands on deck keeping those two existing restaurants open. So there wasn't a minute to work on Milford. We were trying to keep food on our table and the two restaurants we had."

Now, McCarthy said, the time is right to focus on completing the Milford restaurant.

"Windows and doors are now ordered, we have to put a sprinkler system in, and we've just ordered our HVAC," he said. "We had everything teed up to go once we got the green light, and now that we are funded, we are writing big checks."

The Milford location will be the only restaurant in the chain to be located in a former firehouse.

"I kind of stumbled on it, and when I first spoke to Julie (Nash, the city's development director), I was passing through town, and she asked me if I could come by the location," said McCarthy. "They were going on to their second bid because nobody had the reserve on the first one, and so I ended up coming through, taking a look, and Fire Engine Pizza in an old firehouse is a perfect fit."

Throughout the entire process, McCarthy said Nash and Milford Mayor Ben Blake have been quite cooperative.

"They would regularly check in to see how things were going and if they could be of assistance," he said. "They could only do so much because we still have to go through all the committees to receive final approval."

The community has also been supportive and excited for the restaurant to open, McCarthy said. In fact the only downside is the sheer volume of Milford residents asking when the new location will open, he said. Now, he has an answer.

"We are on our way," he said.