Police hope new restaurant will tame traditionally crime-filled location

Police hope new restaurant will tame...

MADISON, Wis. - City leaders and police are hoping a new business on the west side will help tame a traditionally crime-filled location. The well-known pizzeria, Pizza di Roma, is moving into the former Legends bar.

Pizza di Roma, known for its fresh ingredients and fast service, has been a fixture on State Street since 2002.

“Basically anything on the menu takes 10 minutes to make,” Jimmy Pashaj,  owner of Pizza di Roma said. “We have very high quality ingredients.”

It’s a recipe for success that's lead the restaurant to expand to the west side, opening up this month on Grand Canyon Drive.

“Mostly with the aim of having a new spot for deliveries on the west side,” Pashaj said.

It's the former location of Legends bar.

“It was a high calls for service type of address,” said Capt. Cory Nelson, of West District Madison Police Department.  

In less than two years, police responded to a total of 80 911 calls involving shootings, theft and drugs.

“We are busy enough in this district as far as running for calls for service and a problem place like this takes frankly a lot of effort on the police part,” Nelson said.

So when Legends shut down  Nelson and Alder Mark Clear saw the vacancy as an opportunity for change and decided to meet with the pizzeria’s owner.

“We pointed out what happened there in the past and that we didn’t want to see it turn into a similar kind of place in the future and he was completely on board,” Nelson said of the meeting.

“We're not going to be in the bar business. We are not going to stay open late. We're not going to stay open past 11 p.m,” Pashaj said.

So in addition to serving up a hot slice,  Pizza di Roma is serving up peace of mind and giving police a chance to focus on more important things.

“We want to focus on community engagement, walking the neighborhoods and shaking hands and that kind of thing,” Pashaj said.

 Pizza di Roma does have a full liquor license, but for now only plans to serve beer and wine.


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