Sophie T's Pizza Sold After 21-Year Run On Daves Street

Jason Graziadei •

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Rob Noll has known for several years now that he was coming to the end of the line with Sophie T’s, the popular pizza restaurant named for his daughter that he has owned and operated with his wife Kelly since 2001.

But in the hours after Sophie T’s was sold on Tuesday, Noll said he was still “an emotional mess,” as he retired and stepped away from the Nantucket restaurant industry after decades working in kitchens around the island.

“It’s a giant day,” said Noll, who announced the sale of Sophie T’s on the restaurant’s social media pages Tuesday afternoon. “I’ve enjoyed every second of it. I will carry the relationships we formed with different groups, with the people who worked for us, that will carry me through the rest of my life as friends. It’s just the bond you create in a situation like that with the community of Nantucket. The love that’s pouring in, it’s incredible.”

Noll declined to name the buyer of the restaurant, but said it will reopen on Friday as Sophie T’s with the same staff - just minus him and his wife Kelly. Public real estate records recorded in the Nantucket Registry of Deeds on Tuesday showed the buyer was Annapurna Holdings II LLC, a company registered to Bharat Banjara, the owner of the Shangri-La Kitchen on Orange Street. The closing price for the real estate was $1.6 million.

While Noll had originally contemplated selling Sophie T’s before 2020, the pandemic disrupted those plans, but ended up being a boon for the business. But now, he said, the time was right.

“I’ll be 65 years old in three weeks, and I felt like it was time to move on,” Noll said. “We tried to do several things with former employees and none of those worked out. But someone walked through the door and asked ‘are you selling it?’ And that’s how it happened.”

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Reached by phone Tuesday evening, Banjara confirmed that he was the buyer of the restaurant, but declined to go into further details on his exact plans for Sophie T’s.

But for Noll, the sale of his business marks the end of his more than four decades in the island restaurant industry. He got his start working at Federal Street Pizza in 1978, and went on to work in almost every restaurant around the island. Before he opened Sophie T’s in July 2001, Noll had worked at Cap’n Tobey’s on Straight Wharf, at Chancellors, the West Ender, the Atlantic Cafe, the Chanticleer, as well as the Brotherhood of Thieves, where he first met his wife.

Their daughter Sophie was only three years old when he heard about an opportunity on Daves Street.

“Jimmy Perelman, our sheriff and our friend, heard that the Pizza Joint was going to be available,” Noll recalled. “That was the spring of 2001. Jim told Mark Hogan, and Mark Hogan told me. I went and saw Charles Kilvert, who was the owner at the time, and we got the deal done.”

There was only one name for Noll’s new restaurant: it would be called “Sophie T’s” after his three-year-old girl, Sophie Theresa.

“I thought at the beginning I was going to be able to spend some more time with my daughter and wife, but that never happened,” Noll said with a laugh.

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Over the ensuing two decades, Rob and Kelly built a thriving pizza business with longtime, dedicated staff members and loyal customers who kept coming back for more. It wasn’t a glamorous job, Noll said, but one that was fulfilling and in keeping with the men and women in Nantucket’s restaurant industry that he respects and admires.

“In my time on Nantucket, I’ve worked for Bill Puder and a bunch of guys that are behind-the-scenes chefs,” Noll said. “We don’t get written up in magazines or put on the front page. Guys like Matt Sullivan. Guys that turn things out. That’s how I learned to do what I do.”

Those chefs, along with his staff members and customers, were the people who were on Noll’s mind on Tuesday as he reflected back on a long run in the restaurant business.

“We’re very close to our employees - everyone works hard together,” he said. “I’m glad that we made this choice and this opportunity came up. But I’ll miss the people we call our family.”

As for what’s next for him and his wife Kelly, Noll said they intend to stay on Nantucket, but take advantage of the freedom that comes with retirement.

“I’ve got my Medicare card and a bunch of JetBlue flight points,” he said with a laugh. I’m ready to go.”

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