Pies on a Plane: Bocce Club Pizza Holds Grand Opening in Buffalo Airport

June 10, 2022

Jun. 9—Travelers at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport now have another option to taste Buffalo above the clouds, on the tarmac or while inside the Cheektowaga travel hub.

Bocce Club Pizza held a grand opening Thursday as part of Delaware North's $3 million project to upgrade concessions in the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Delaware North, which also handles concessions for the Bills and Sabres, is operating the service area after training by Bocce employees. The new eatery soft-opened Memorial Day weekend.

The iconic Buffalo pizza brand is stationed in the upper level between Tim Hortons and fellow newcomer BurgerFi, a national chain selling upscale burgers. Food court seating accommodates all three businesses, as well as Anchor Bar, which is located behind Bocce. Like all concessions beyond security at the airport, the food may be taken aboard flights.

Instead of the traditional 18-inch Bocce pizza, the airport location will serve 10-inch pies ready in eight-to-10 minutes, said Bocce Pizza Club owner and president Jim Pacciotti, with prices similar to Bocce's. Sandwiches and chicken fingers are also on the menu. Slices are not available for now, Pacciotti said.

The process to mimic Bocce was elaborate, Pacciotti said. Delaware North installed two new deck ovens to try to replicate the crispy crust of Bocce's pies. The collaboration and demands of an airport have led to a new, more sturdy box to hold the pies, he added.

The pizzeria owner explained the licensing agreement Bocce has with Delaware North, which reached out to him in 2019 after a proposed Chick-fil-A was nixed. In addition to 12 days of training and permission to use the brand's name, Pacciotti said he supplied "cheat sheets" on preparing Bocce pizza, connections with product deliverers and information on Bocce's equipment.

Pacciotti owns and operates four Bocce locations, on Bailey Avenue in Amherst, Delaware Avenue in downtown Buffalo, Goodrich Road in Clarence and Hopkins Road in Amherst. Bocce's first licensed location opened in 2019 in the Expo Market on Hertel Avenue as part of a food hall. A licensed operation differs from a franchise in that a licensing business can use some trademarks from the original instead of the whole of the business, while a licensee usually holds more control over the business than a franchisee.


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