Jeff Miner had a pretty darn cool career going before pizza came a-knockin’. Miner held a job as the crew chief for NFL Skycam when he began experimenting with making Detroit-style pizza. Miner’s brother, Ron, urged Jeff to consider pizza as something more than just a hobby.

When Ron passed away from a heart attack in 2020, Jeff must have heard his brother’s voice ringing in his ears, because he sold his first pizzas to the public in January 2021 at Half Liter Beer & BBQ Hall in Indianapolis. Now, some three years later, Jeff is leaving his job with NFL SkyCam to open up a brick-and-mortar location called Sam’s Square Pie—the name “Sam” is a nod to Miner’s maternal grandfather.

Ron “DJ Indiana Jones” Miner was influential on the Indianapolis music scene when he passed away, reports the Indianapolis Business-Journal. Eddie Sahm, chief operating officer of Sahm’s Hospitality Group, which owns Half Liter Beer & BBQ Hall, reached out to Jeff Miner in the wake of his brother’s passing to see if he’d have interest in doing a pizza pop-up.

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“A lot of the city was hurt about Ron passing away, and Eddie was trying to calm me or give me something to look forward to,” Miner told the Business-Journal.

Sahm wasn’t just doing this as a favor, though. He had sampled some of Miner’s handiwork and was impressed. “I thought, ‘Here’s a guy with a passion for food,’” he said.

Sam's Square Pie will serve Detroit-style pizza to the Indianapolis faithful.

And so Half Liter Beer & BBQ Hall became the site of Miner’s immersion into the restaurant industry. It was where he perfected cooking outside of his kitchen and learned how to put together a profitable business. It also became his place of refuge in the wake of his brother’s sudden passing.

“It allowed me to grieve while not focusing on the grief,” Miner said. “I was just making pizza after pizza after pizza. I kept thinking of my brother saying, ‘You have to do this. You have to do this.’”

As buzz began to grow for Sam’s Square Pie—Miner’s pop-up account, which now serves as his business account, has amassed over 6,000 followers on Instagram—the need for a physical location became clear. What Miner didn’t expect was how much of a headache that would become. He thought he’d landed a location that ultimately fell through, and said he checked out several others before finally settling on a place at the corner of East 10th Street and Rural Street on the east side of Indy.

According to the Business-Journal, Miner said that as he transitions from NFL film crew to pizzeria kitchen he has been comforted by a Buddhist parable where a teacup full of liquid is emptied to make room for something new.

“I need to forget about all of that and just become part of this neighborhood,” he said. “Be in here six or seven days a week, serving my heart and giving all I have to make a great pizza. That is what got me into it: Hearing people say, ‘It’s the best pizza I ever had.’”