Pizza chef brings East Coast style to Hey Hey Bar & Grill in Merion Village

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
Doug Sauer makes his Firefighter Pizza on Nov. 23 at the Hey Hey Bar & Grill, where he leases the kitchen to operate Alberta’s Pizza Kitchen.

Correction: The previously published version of this story provided an incorrect Columbus neighborhood for the location of the Hey Hey Bar & Grill. It is in Merion Village.

It was a coincidence that seemed to good to be true: Sue Gall wanted someone to take over the kitchen at her venue, the Hey Hey Bar & Grill, and Doug Sauer wanted to plant his culinary flag.

The result: Alberta’s Pizza Kitchen inside the Hey Hey at 361 E. Whittier St. in Columbus' Merion Village neighborhood.

The business relationship has worked out well thus far, Gall and Sauer said.

“To me, this is what we’ve needed for bar food,” Gall said.

That turned out to be East Coast-style pizza that starts with premium ingredients: handmade dough, Grande Cheese Co. products, tomatoes from Stanislaus Foods, pepperoni and sausage from locally based Ezzo Sausage Co. and sub buns from Auddino’s Italian Bakery.

Although Columbus is known as a party-cut pizza bastion – party, or box, cut referring to the square-cut pieces of the pies – triangle-sliced pizza is gaining traction in central Ohio, Sauer said.

“I think it’s really catching on,” he said.

Sauer, who leases the kitchen from Gall, named it after his late mother, who died in 2002. The kitchen’s insignia bears the image of his father’s mother, Grandma “B” Sauer.

Hey Hey Bar & Grill owner Sue Gall (left) and general manager Jessica Gall (right) are leasing their kitchen to Doug Sauer. The menu for Sauer's Alberta’s Pizza Kitchen includes the Firefighter Pizza, mozzarella wedges, a meatball sub and garlic knots.

Sauer grew up in Columbus' Linden neighborhood but his family has ties to the south side of the city. His parents grew up in German Village, he said.

“This has always felt like home down here,” he said.

One of the founding partners of Kolache Republic, which closed earlier this year and relocated to the Daily Growler in the Brewery District, Sauer wanted to try something new, he said.

All of his pizzas are built from his own recipes. His menu includes fried mozzarella, garlic knots (another East Coast favorite), homemade meatballs, hand-cut fries, whole pies and pizza by the slice.

Garlic knots are on Doug Sauer's menu for Alberta’s Pizza Kitchen at the Hey Hey Bar & Grill in Columbus' Merion Village neighborhood.

“This is a preliminary menu,” he said. “We’re still feeling it out.”

During the early days of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, after Gov. Mike DeWine on March 15 announced the closure of restaurants and bars to dine-in service, Gall was taking care of to-go orders from a limited menu, which included her famous sauerkraut balls that still are offered on the Alberta’s menu.

Yet, she said, she wanted to slow down and not run the kitchen anymore.

Sauer took over Aug. 21, long after he had been a customer of the Hey Hey and had designs on reorienting the kitchen to fit his bill of fare.

“He said, ‘I want to do pizza,’” Gall said. “I said, ‘I have a pizza oven, so go for it.'"

“I’d sit there and look at that Blodgett oven and thought there should be pizza coming out of there,” Sauer said.

The Hey Hey is open daily, and the pizza kitchen is open Mondays through Saturdays and closed Sundays and Mondays. However, food still is available on a limited basis on those days, Gall said.

“People want food,” said Jessica Gall, Sue Gall’s daughter and a bartender at the Hey Hey. “They want food, beer and football. They all go together.”

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary