Even with its locally renowned menu packed with artisanal pizzas, seasonal ingredients and a gorgeous outdoor patio area overlooking the picturesque Green River, Hot Tomatoes Neapolitan Pizza in Williamstown, Massachusetts, has been lacking something crucial for several years: adequate staff.

So after nearly 30 years in business, owner Angie England has turned in her pizza peel for good. “It is time for new adventures,” she stated in an April 24 Facebook post that announced the pizzeria’s closure.

The building is up for sale, and, she added, “It may be possible that whoever purchases the property will continue the Hot Tomatoes brand.”

Related: Slice Factory expands menu by co-locating with The Sweet Spot.

England’s post elicited an outpouring of comments—71 and counting—mourning the loss of the venerable pizza shop, which had been honored for best pizza in the Berkshire Eagle’s Best of the Berkshire competition four years in a row.

England and her husband, John, opened Hot Tomatoes in 1994. After John passed away five years ago, “I’ve been trying to keep it alive,” England told the Berkshire Eagle.

Hiring, training and retaining staff was the big challenge. “You get a few people you can keep year-round, but usually it’s 80 percent high school kids or college students,” she told the newspaper. “Paying someone $20 an hour to sling pizzas and having to train them is pretty difficult for just a couple months, and having to do it year after year after year after year, it just gets really tiring.”

this photo shows a cocktail with a lemon wedge on an outdoor table with a flowering shrub nearby showing purple flowers and umbrellas in the background

Hot Tomatoes Neapolitan Pizza

England expanded the Williamstown location in 2019 with outdoor seating and a beer-and-wine bar in a sprawling green space that offered a view of the nearby river. The timing was fortuitous, as the pandemic erupted the next year and outdoor dining was the only option for most restaurants that wanted to keep customers coming through their doors.

An additional Hot Tomatoes location, which opened more than 10 years ago, didn’t fare so well in the pandemic and had to be closed permanently.

Hot Tomatoes’ menu showcased thin-crust pizzas crafted in the Neapolitan style with a chunky tomato sauce and whole-milk mozzarella, including rotating weekly specials such as the Shrimp and Capers, the Clams Casino and the Eggplant and Goat Cheese. Desserts included the housemade Twix Gelato featuring candy pieces and a caramel drizzle, and the Seasonal Berry Gelato made with a mix of in-season berries, such as blueberries, blackberries and strawberries.

In early December 2022, England closed the restaurant for the winter season but planned to reopen in the spring. During the break, however, England started having second thoughts and decided she didn’t want to return to the drudgery when staff was so hard to find.

She told the Berkshire Eagle that Hot Tomatoes has blessed her with “a lot of really good memories….People just loving the product and rave reviews and a lot of fun…I loved the people enjoying it and coming in and telling us how much they love it.”

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