Charli's Pizza opens in downtown Cambridge

Claudia Loucks
A ribbon cutting was held on Jan. 6 to officially open Charli’s Pizza in Cambridge. Shown at the event are, from left, Lennox Irby, Joseph Mickley, owner; Jessica Harris and Charleigh Mickley.

Who doesn’t like pizza? That was the question that led Joseph Mickley to opening Charli’s Pizza at 111 North Prospect St. in Cambridge.

A ribbon cutting was held recently to officially open the restaurant which specializes in all flavors and sizes of pizza, including a “build our own,” in addition to sub sandwiches and appetizers.

Charli’s Pizza is open from 4 to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from 4 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. To order or for more information, call 309-285-8191.

Charli’s Pizza is currently offering carry-out and delivery and more information, including future planned dine-in options and specials, are available on face book. Online ordering and loyalty rewards also will be available by the end of January.

When asked why he started a pizza business, Mickley answered, “I love food and I’ve always enjoyed cooking and experimenting in the kitchen.”

“The base I was at in my first year training in the Marines was small and didn’t have a chow hall,” he said. “Our only option was a microwave and we weren’t allowed hot plates, so we had to be creative. We even went as far as propping a clothing iron upside down in between our boots to make grilled cheese sandwiches.”

The name “Charli’s Pizza” was inspired by Mickley’s daughter, Charleigh, who was born in August.

He said the idea of owning and starting a restaurant started nearly five years ago and he said, “Everyone’s been asking why a pizza restaurant, and I answer, ‘who doesn’t like pizza?’”

Two years ago he began to get serious about a pizza restaurant and began looking into different options and creating potential menus.

“Then Covid hit which actually resulted in eliminating any doubts I had,” Mickley said. “The initial quarantine allowed him to experiment with different recipes and while a lot of the restaurant industry unfortunately got hit hard, the pizza industry was already built to handle carry out and delivery, and a lot of the chains were reporting large increases in sales.”

An opportunity presented itself in the spring of 2021, and Mickley said, “I took it and that has gotten me to where I am today.”

When asked about the “biggest hurdle” he had to overcome in opening the pizza restaurant, the owner said, “Having zero experience in the restaurant/food industry. It was overwhelming at first, the health department was very helpful and my representative with the food distributor had a wealth of knowledge which was invaluable.”

Bella Pizza was previously located where Charli’s Pizza has opened and Mickley said, “Owners Frank and Maria and their son, Frank, have gone above and beyond in helping me with the transition and knowledge of the industry, so I owe them a debt of gratitude.”

Mickley also owns some insurance agencies with locations in Cambridge, Atkinson and Toulon.

“The evening and weekend hours matched well with the insurance business allowing me to be able to do both,” he said. “Now I just have to integrate pizza with insurance.”