Primo's Pizza

Employee Janet Allevato (left) and Shane Shirt, owner, work in the kitchen of Primo’s Pizza, 126 Clinton St., downtown Johnstown

One of Johnstown’s best-known pizzerias has moved from the city’s Woodvale neighborhood into the central business district.

Primo’s Pizza is now at 126 Clinton St. – once the location of Donut Connection.

Owner Shane Shirt said he had been wanting to relocate his business, which opened in 2002, for a while – and hopes to be part of a rebirth for the long-declining downtown.

“Downtown is getting a downtown vibe back again, if you will,” he said. “It was nice, (last) weekend, Friday and Saturday, how many people were outside walking around, not only coming in here, going over to Coney Island, but just in general being around.

Shirt worked with Johnstown officials – including Community and Economic Development Director John Dubnansky, codes officer Sam Barber and Public Works Director Jared Campagna – to develop a plan to lease the city-owned site.

“We’re excited about somebody wanting to take one of the city’s own properties that has been sitting vacant for approximately 10 years and do something with it,” Dubnansky said. “Really, it just came down to the finances. How could we make it work to renovate this space and work with them? Through a lot of finagling and a lot of working with different contractors, we were able to do that – and make it a financially feasible project for the city to partake and then also, at the same time, obviously have a great new business here in our downtown to support both the residents and visitors to the town.”

Johnstown invested a little more than $50,000 to renovate the building, Dubnansky said, making upgrades to the ceiling, HVAC and electric system, along with adding infrastructure specific for a restaurant’s needs.

“The city was able to utilize a business loan in order to front the money for this project,” Dubnansky said, “which we’ll utilize the lease that the tenant’s paying us to pay back that loan within a five-year time period.”

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

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