BAD HORSE PIZZA was founded in 2011 by owner and 0perater John Kandel, with the assistance of executive chef and kitchen manager Omar Guzman. John and Omar had worked together like two hands on the same clock for several years at neighborhood coffee spot Zanny’s Cafe, just down the island at 108th and Columbus, Manhattan Valley, New York City. Kandel had been the owner and operator of Zanny’s Cafe. Guzman had previously been the lead cook and manager at Zanny’s Cafe, a pâtissier at Cupping Room, and a doughmaster at Vezzo.


BadHorsePizza_PizzaOvenBad Horse Pizza – Pizza Made With LoveAfter operating Zanny’s Cafe with a partner for 9 years, Kandel decided he needed a change of scenery and took a much needed break in the arid Southwest–a break during which he took a job working in the parts and materials department of an airline maintenance facility just outside of Tucson. After a few months Kandel decided to return to his hometown and was eager to jump back into the restaurant business, but at a different and higher level.

Following the inspiration and brainwave of his friend Jaymeson Leo, a new resident amid the renaissance occurring on FDB’s Restaurant Row, Kandel saw the need in the area for a comfortable, casual restaurant that would appeal to a diverse clientele: new residents, existing residents, single people, families, tourists, couples, couples with children. After much culinary soul searching, and vacant space hunting, Kandel discovered the available former Corcoran Real Estate office storefront at 2222 Frederick Douglass Boulevard. Since there weren’t any pizzerias in the immediate area and he was a lifelong pizza fanatic, he thought, why not startup a nouveau neighborhood pizzeria? After a few months of negotiations, he finally signed a lease for Bad Horse Pizza, Inc., taking the offbeat name from another of his girlfriend’s brainwaves.

BadHorsePizza_HorseLampBad Horse Pizza – A Great Restaurant with Cool MusicEnter Jaymeson Leo’s instinctual design and renovation skills. Kandel and Leo refashioned the sterile, flourescent-lit white walls and cubicles of the former office into an airy and earthy space reminiscent of the easy, rustic atmosphere of an old country barn if it were a dining room, while maintaining the sleekness and raw minimalism of an urban space. As much as possible they reused and recycled existing on-site materials–sometimes down to the screw–and picked out dining tables crafted out of reclaimed metal and wood. They also installed a spacious zinc bar with clean rustic-industrial lines and black ceiling fans to keep the air moving. The ducts and cables, wires and pipes of the building infrastructure are visible against the exposed brick walls. The ambience is organic, open and airy, but with an urban edge. The many windows provide views of the street on the North and West, as well as offer an entertaining view of the kitchen at work.

Then Kandel turned to Guzman, bringing him on board for his tenacious ability to learn on his feet, his positive but energetic work attitude, and his artistry in the kitchen. After a month or so of pizza recipe research and experimentation, Kandel and Guzman decided to wrap the interior rustic-urban ambience around a pizza with a crispy thin crust, a homemade San Marzano sauce recipe, and unique pairings of the freshest natural ingredients as toppings. All the pizzas at BAD HORSE PIZZA are constructed start to finish by hand on premises. Bad Horse Pizza has artisanal house pies as well as the old standbys. Also delicous pastas and salads.

BAD HORSE PIZZA was born and opened its doors to the pizza-starved residents of FDB and beyond on April Fool’s Day 2011. But it was no joke.