Punch History - Highland - It all began here

When I was eight years old, my family and I moved to Milan, Italy. I’d take the public tram home from school, stopping almost every day at Da Gino, a local pizzeria. My friends and I would sit for hours, eating pizza and chatting with the pizzaioli. Something about the experience stuck with me, because when I moved back to the states, all I could think about was opening a pizzeria.

Employee preparing a pizza
Interior of Punch Pizza

Milan, Italy - Called to pizza as a young boy - In 1996 John realized his childhood dream with the opening of Punch.

In 1995, I still hadn’t decided whether or not to open Punch. I was unsure of the concept and finding a location was proving difficult. While on our honeymoon in Nice, France, my wife and I got lost looking for a restaurant and ended up at an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria. The restaurant was packed and the wood burning pizzas looked amazing with their blackened blisters and irregular crusts. Watching the servers hustling out these amazing looking pizzas and the customers devouring them with forks and knifes sealed the deal for me. I got back from our trip and within a week had a deal done for a place right down the street from my house. It took about six months for my family and I to build the restaurant. We opened February, 5th 1996, and been serving Neapolitan pizza ever since.

In 2000 I got to know John and Kim Puckett, the founders of Caribou Coffee. They had been regulars for years and after selling Caribou, John approached me about becoming partners. We took a trip to Naples and quickly realized we shared a similar vision for Punch. We became partners in 2001 and in 2002 opened our second restaurant.

John's expired passport