A passion for pizza

Developer Michael Bay is ready to spread his passion for authentic Old World pizza to the rest of us.

The owner of the massive old Burlington Industries mill complex off South Main Street plans to open a 120-seat pizzeria on Sept. 25 in the 30,000-square-foot former power house building that generated electricity for the mill.

Bay is renovating the space and has ordered four wood-fired brick ovens from a manufacturer in Naples, Italy. The power house features two 60-foot-tall steel chimneys in which Bay said he intends to keep fires going in winter for patrons of the pizzeria.

He plans to learn the art of brick-oven pizza making on two upcoming trips to Naples, he said, and return home with a certificate showing he knows how it's done.

As in Naples, his pizza makers will wear ties and dress shirts beneath their aprons. "They'll look like professors making the pizzas," he said.

Patrons will be able to watch them make the pies; as the brick-oven areas will be entirely open to the seating areas.

Everything on the pizzas will be 100 percent organic, including the dough, fresh mozzarella and vegetable toppings, he said. Despite the better ingredients, Bay said, prices will be competitive with the chains and other pizzerias.

Bay opened one of his Merinos Home Furnishings outlets in the complex earlier this year in another building he spent months renovating, at 500 S. Main St. He operates other Merinos stores in old mill buildings he refurbished in South Carolina and Georgia.

Phase II of his Mooresville project is nearing completion. It contains about 360,000 square feet, in which Bay intends to sell office furniture, children's furniture, carpet, flooring, patio furniture and exotic stones by about mid-February.

He intends to start on Phase III of the project this month. Phase III will involve renovating a 200,000-square-foot building behind the main building where Merinos Home Furnishings operates. He applied to the town for a Phase III construction permit Dec. 15. Phase III will take about four months to renovate into more retail space, he said.

Now that he's 50, Bay said, he also felt the need to pursue that longtime passion for pizza.

"If it's not the best, I will take you to Italy," he said on a recent tour of the power house. "You better book your table now. If you have this, you will never eat pizza anywhere else."

C.R. Onsrud announces $5.5 million expansion

Troutman-based CNC machinery manufacturer C.R. Onsrud Inc. will invest $5.5 million over three years in a major expansion of its plant, company officials announced recently.

The company intends to expand its building at 120 Technology Drive by 30,000 square feet and add new equipment and fixtures throughout the facility. Thirty new jobs will be added over the three years, including 10 by the end of 2012.

The project is scheduled to begin in the first quarter this year, with construction finished by mid-year and the new equipment in place and operating by the first quarter of 2013.

The new jobs will be advanced manufacturing, electrical, mechanical and engineering positions, with an average salary of at least $45,000, officials said.

C.R. Onsrud specializes in CNC machinery designed for the aerospace, woodworking, plastics and composites industries. The expansion will help meet what company officials call unprecedented demand for its products. C.R. Onsrud was founded in Troutman in 1915.

Maker of active wear opening in Statesville

Montreal-based active wear manufacturer Gildan announced Dec. 23 it will consolidate its U.S. sales and marketing offices from Newton and Greensboro to downtown Statesville.

The move will bring about 30 professional jobs to the 9,500-square-foot building at Tradd and Broad streets formerly occupied by Wachovia Bank and, most recently, Dana Corp.

The real estate deal was brokered by Harry Tsumas of Tsumas Real Estate & Development and Edwin Hunter of Edwin Hunter & Associates.

The Statesville office also will house Gildan's merchandising and design groups. Gildan has about 30,000 workers worldwide.