"I didn't expect this," Wolfson said, smiling.
Wolfson said he hopes to have the new doors open by July, pending ultimate approval by the Cobb Board of Commissioners.
Monday's vote by the Cobb County Business License Review Board was a unanimous 5-0, but its passage did not come easy.
Wolfson and co-owners David and Kellie Contreras faced nearly two years of denials and appeals to serve beer and wine at an additional location they want to open up at 39011 Mary Eliza Trace, near Due West Road.
MPC's current location on the Marietta Square has been in business for 10 years. Wolfson said business is still going strong and that no alcohol violations have occurred at the restaurant.
But since November 2008, Wolfson said they have hit one wall after another with the county because the new restaurant sits in a retail center that is slightly more than 300 feet to the east of a daycare center that also offers pre-K - which legally classifies it as a school. While state guidelines only require an alcohol-serving business to be at least 300 feet away from a school, county code requires businesses wishing to serve alcohol within 600 feet of a school to be approved by the License Review Board.
The permit was denied in November 2008, and the property went into foreclosure after sitting vacant for nearly two years. But in January, Marietta Pizza co-owners began talks with the new owner, Eddie Quarles, and they agreed to sign a lease contingent on a beer and wine license.
Beer and wine is the only alcohol sold at the Marietta Square location, and Wolfson said beer and wine represents just 11 percent of total sales. However, he said the alcohol "pays the rent" and is vital to keeping a pizza restaurant flourishing and affordable.
"We're in the food business, not the alcohol business," Wolfson said earlier this month. "But people want to enjoy a glass of beer or wine with their pizza, and I have yet to find a successful dine-in pizza restaurant that does not serve alcohol."
Wolfson said several other businesses have not met the county requirements and yet have been granted a permit, as was the case with West Cobb Diner near the corner of Dallas Highway and Barrett Parkway. He also cited a petition Monday with nearly 1,400 signatures from nearby residents and business owners who supported the pizza restaurant's expansion - including the owner of the daycare center in contention.
But five people spoke in opposition Monday, including four nearby residents and the owner of Piezoni's, a pizza restaurant on the same street of the proposed Marietta Pizza Company location that would likely become a competitor.
Most opposed said they feared the consumption of alcohol in what they believed to be a pedestrian-heavy neighborhood would be unsafe, and granting the license would create a domino effect for other nearby restaurants who may request an alcohol permit in the future.
But the opposition was overwhelmed by the dozens of nearby residents and business owners who said the restaurant would be a welcomed addition to their community, would create jobs, would not be a safety hazard and fill a vacant building that has become an eyesore.
Even Chef Henry Chandler of the popular Acworth restaurant Henry's Louisiana Grill spoke in support of his "old friends."
"They do a tremendous amount of business and they will only enhance that area. There were several who spoke out in opposition when I got my beer, wine and liquor license and said Satan was coming to town. Well, Satan never came to town. I have a wonderful business with no violations, just like them," Chandler said.
Monday's hearing came after a March 3 decision that deadlocked at 2-2, with members Milton Beck and Eddie Canon in opposition and Jim Pehrson and Larry Walker in support. The board's fifth member, Judy Skeel, was absent for that meeting, so the board set Monday's hearing for the final vote.
Canon not only changed his vote Monday, but also cast the motion to approve the license.
"I just went out after that and talked to people and saw the support, and the biggest thing was that someone at the last hearing in opposition said you could see the playground from the patio, and I didn't feel comfortable with that. But I went there myself, and there's a building in between that completely blocks that view and you can't see the playground from there at all. I just had a gut feeling that this was the right decision," Canon said.