Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of downtown on 15 Cushing Street, the Brunswick location of OTTO Pizza opened its doors September 7.
OTTO already has 17 locations in total, seven of which are in the greater Portland area, where the pizzeria was established in 2009 by New England entrepreneurs Anthony Allen and Mike Keon. The Brunswick franchise was kickstarted by Maine District Manager Bob Magda, a Topsham native who has an extensive background in the food service industry.
Though off the beaten track, the new Brunswick location’s familiar space plays a major role in creating an intimate atmosphere for customers.
“This building used to be El Camino, a very popular neighborhood watering hole,” Magda said. “OTTO is [a] community—that’s kind of what we do, we go into small spaces.”
The interior retains many of the original features which mark the former neighborhood cantina, including stained glass decor and a colorful wrap-around bar.
OTTO acquired the space in April, and what Magda thought would be two months of renovation extended until just recently, largely due to a shortage of contractors and difficulty acquiring supplies such as a brick conveyor belt pizza oven. But with an expanded kitchen space, the location is already pushing out hundreds of pizzas daily for delivery and takeout.
“I think our bread and butter too, with Bowdoin, is going to be the sporting events,” Magda said. “We’ve already made two deliveries to the field hockey team.”
While OTTO only offers take out and delivery as of now, Magda has plans to open up this space for indoor dining once again and add 16 bar stools along with 24-30 seats for patrons.
The restaurant’s newly updated interior features a TV, full liquor bar and six draft beers on tap. Magda is hopeful this will turn into a hotspot for Bowdoin students and locals alike. He pointed to several qualities which make the establishment unique, including pizza by the slice, homemade dough from scratch and a wide range of dietary options.
“It’s a build-your-own—it’s not a factory pizza,” Magda said. “We use as [many] sustainable products as we can.”
Some Bowdoin students have already tried out the pizza joint and noted the range in new flavor combinations.
“I’m a big fan. It’s not for everyone, but they have really cool specialty pizzas that not everyone would think taste good,” Janie Shanahan ’24 said. “I think they’re doing a good job integrating new flavors to pizza that I have never seen before.”
OTTO’s neighborhood presence and small bar atmosphere will be enhanced by the friendly environment among employees and customers that Magda strives to achieve.
“It’s a people business,” Magda said. “It’s all about the people working for you, and the passion and just keeping the culture of OTTO going.”
OTTO is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.