Authentic East Coast pizza in San Diego: meet Tony Kruk, owner of Hoboken Pizza & Beer.

circular-headshotBY CAROLINE ABKAR | Red Tree Realty | June 2017

There’s a piece of Hoboken right here in Pacific Beach, San Diego and it is run by no other than Bay Park resident Tony Kruk who spends hours on end dedicated to his well-loved establishment. When he is not working, Tony takes care of his little girl and I had the pleasure of interviewing him while swinging our little ones at Western Hills Park. Enjoy!

Caroline Abkar: Tony, can you tell us a bit about your background and what led you to Hoboken Pizza?

Tony Kruk: Tommy, the original owner, is from Hoboken and I came into the picture 3 months after Hoboken opened its doors in 2002. I am originally from the East Coast and graduated from University of Pittsburgh. I was working in a completely different field when my path came across Hoboken on New Year’s Eve back in 2002 and that was my first night. The place was crazy, the atmosphere was so good and I was hooked. They wanted someone with outstanding work ethics and I got a chance to become a partner very quickly. In 2012, I officially took over as sole owner but Tommy’s pictures are still on the wall and he is the face of Hoboken.

Caroline Abkar:  Are you still involved in the day to day or do you run the operations behind the scenes now?

Tony Kruk: Oh I still make pizza every day! I work 4-5 days a week. It’s a small pizzeria with a huge kitchen, a big menu, and I am involved in all aspects of the business including ordering inventory and training people on how to make a pizza. Owning a small business is a lot of work and I love being involved. I love interacting with customers. We get many that come in from the East Coast who tell us that it’s like a taste of home, and locals love it alike. The decor is definitely a fusion of East Coast meets West Coast. It’s a great place, and we are open late, until 2:30am.

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Tony preparing their popular Bowery Boys pizza.

Tony Kruk: I think a lot has to do with the culture at the restaurant, and obviously our pizza recipe is really good. It’s funny too, we have customers who have been getting pizza for years and will see clients having pasta or a salad and then they will be hooked on that for a while. People love the atmosphere, we love our classic rock music, and we do also get quite a few families.

I have been in San Diego since 2000 and the places that incorporate culture are few. We try to keep a dive bar feel to the place and I think it has a lot to do with its success.

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Everything on the walls at Hoboken Pizza has a story to tell.

Caroline Abkar: What is so unique about the pizza?

Tony Kruk: I think a lot of pizzerias come and go in San Diego, and to be honest I always try every pizzeria that opens. I think it’s a combination of our dough being really good, the sauce, how we make our pizza. We offer not only thin crust but also thick Sicilian crust pizza which not a lot of establishments offer because it takes longer to prepare. It’s a whole process that starts early in the morning where we make the dough rise multiple times.

Caroline Abkar: Do you use an Italian wood fired oven to bake your pizzas?

Tony Kruk: No, it’s actually a baker’s oven, probably 70 years old. It’s manufactured by Blodgett. It’s made to bake bread in. When Tommy first opened the restaurant, he got his hands on the oven and plans were to get a new oven eventually. Fifteen years later, we’re still using the same oven. There’s something about that oven… thousands of breads have been cooked in it, it’s an old school Italian baker who had it before and it just cooks the pizzas perfectly! We get comments about our oven and how cool it looks, so we don’t want to let it go! It’s become part of our culture. They don’t make ovens like that anymore, I think it really separates us.

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Pizzas done to perfection coming out of the Blodgett oven.

Caroline Abkar: Can you tell us a bit about the team?

Tony Kruk: We try to teach our employees about life, about work ethics. Many stay with us for 6-7 years. I look for hard working, humble youngsters who want to learn. We do really well in there, it’s long hours. We teach them our craft and it’s something they’ll carry with them. We try to have fun between ourselves and with our customers.

Caroline Abkar: What do you like about living in Bay Park?

Tony Kruk: My wife and I used to live in PB and when we decided that we wanted to move, we looked everywhere in San Diego and kept coming back to Bay Park. We found our home randomly by driving around, and we got very lucky at the time we bought. It’s such a great neighborhood and now with the really cool restaurants around here, the neighbors, it really makes you feel like you’re in a small town. Even down here at the park, you meet so many people. People are so friendly and talkative here. We love the vibe here.

Family

Tony and his family.

Caroline Abkar: What do you love most about running Hoboken?

Tony Kruk: I love seeing our customers enjoy our food. We have never advertised and have been successful through word of mouth. My wife started social media accounts last year and our customers love it.

Caroline Abkar: Some customer favorites?

Tony Kruk: It’s so funny because my wife always says we have amazing salads. Our wings are awesome. Tommy named the pizzas with East Coast references such as My Way and Bowery Boys. Our thick Sicilian crust is crunchy on the bottom and soft in the middle. We have these daily specials all the way until 11pm:

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Hoboken’s Daily Specials board.

We just launched our Taco Pizzas on Tuesdays. We offer $2 off draft beer on Tuesdays for all teachers.

Caroline Abkar: Do you give back to the community?

Tony Kruk: Yes! We sponsor Mission Bay Little League, a Dodgeball team, as well as PYSL. We also give back to the Travis Foundation. We love sharing our success any way  we can and we can’t wait to welcome your readers and the entire community at Hoboken!

**Author’s note: My family and I ordered a half/half Bowery Boys/Hot Maggie’s Pizza, a grilled chicken salad, and slices of cheese pizza. Everything tasted delicious! My daughter was licking her fingers and my hubby had all the lefties for the next two days (which he does not usually do!).

About the owner: Tony Kruk is the proud owner of Hoboken Pizza & beer. In addition to pizza, salads and wings, you can enjoy local beer selections and 11 taps that are rotated based on customer feedback. You can BYOW (no corkage fee). You can even host your Birthday party at Hoboken Pizza! Read more at www.hobokenpizza.com  as well as their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/HobokenPizzaPacificBeach/.  You can also follow them on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/hobokenpizzapb/.

About the author: Caroline Abkar is a Real Estate professional who is absolutely passionate about helping her clients with one of the most important decisions of their lives. She loves to be an advocate for those who place their trust in her and will go above and beyond to serve anyone needing her real estate services. She also loves bringing the community together any way she can. You can contact her anytime at 619-808-4804 or caroline@redtreerealty.com.