A slice of the east coast is coming soon to Monona.
Dennis Laubner, owner of North Shore Pizza and Subs, said the New England-style pizza and sub shop is slated to open late July or the first week of August.
The restaurant, 4503 Monona Dr, is Laubner’s first business. He spent over 15 years working in pizza and sub shops all across Massachusetts.
Laubner grew up in Haverhill an hour outside of Boston, near the North Shore of Massachusetts that gives the restaurant its name.
He studied business at University of Massachusetts Amherst on the west side of the state. Western Massachusetts is also where Laubner and his wife met, Savannah Laubner.
Savannah Laubner worked for Walgreens in human resources, a job that took the Laubners down to New Jersey and eventually landed them in the Madison area when she was transferred to the Windsor distribution facility five years ago. They bought a house in Sun Prairie in 2020.
Dennis Laubner said he and his wife have thought about opening a restaurant showcasing their favorite east coast dishes since they moved to Wisconsin in 2017.
They “fell in love with Wisconsin,” Laubner said, but missed the mom and pop pizza and sandwich shops back east.
“My wife and I always wanted to start our own business and work for ourselves,” Laubner said. “Opportunity arose and, you know, we jumped on it.”
What’s on the menu at North Shore Pizza and Subs?
Laubner was still finalizing the menu, but planned to serve a broad variety of New England-inspired items: chicken parmesan and steak and cheese sub sandwiches, cold cuts, hand-tossed pizza with dough made in-store, pastas and salads.
“It looks like a big menu but it’s really easy to mix and match,” Laubner said.
The shop’s signature sandwich will be the North Shore roast beef: hot, thin slices of roast beef, cooked medium rare and made on-site, served on a grilled bun.
Laubner said they were considering applying for a beer and wine license in the future, but for now they were focused on opening shop.
They will continue to sell Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream like the previous tenant, Rossi’s Pizza and Vintage Arcade.
“Revamping” the decor and arcade
Laubner said they also planned to keep the classic arcade games that made Rossi’s a popular spot, and would continue to work with the former owner’s vendor, Star Worlds Arcade, based in Dekalb, Illinois, to swap out some machines and put in new ones to “revamp” the arcade.
The Laubners have made some significant changes to the space, first and foremost removing the carpet in the front dining room.
“Carpets and restaurants to me just don’t match,” Dennis Laubner said.
The remodeled space is more uniform, with consistent furniture and paint throughout the dining room. Plants hang in the windows.
“I think it looks more open, more airy, more, you know, cleaner-looking,” Laubner said.
Laubner plans to keep the shop open during the day to serve lunch to the Monona Grove High School crowd.
“It’s a great location with the high school across the street,” Laubner said, “tons of traffic going up and down Monona Drive every day.”
Keeping North Shore Pizza and Subs staffed
Ross Parisi, owner of Rossi’s, closed his iconic pizza shop and arcade in May. He told the Wisconsin State Journal that he struggled to find qualified staff.
Laubner was hopeful that staffing wouldn’t be an issue with the “plethora of kids over here that are probably looking for jobs.”
“I’m willing to train anyone,” he said.
Laubner said he was prepared to dedicate himself to the restaurant – every day, every shift, front of the house, kitchen.
“With any business that anyone starts up you’re going to be married to the business for the first couple of years,” Laubner said. “I’m 100% prepared to do that.”