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Boonie’s Chicago Style Pizza Closes After Over Two Years of Business in the High Country

The restaurant is located in the old Hardee’s building at 610 Blowing Rock Rd in Boone. Photo by Ken Ketchie

By Maddie Lipe

Boonie’s Chicago Style Pizza’s last day of business is January 31, after over two years of business in the High Country.

Boonie’s announced its closing on Facebook and Instagram on January 11. 

“We are heartbroken to announce we are closing at the end of January. We are so appreciative of all of you these past few years,” Boonie’s post said.

The restaurant invited its customers to come in the following weeks after its announcement to celebrate its final days open. Boonie’s continued its normal specials up until closing as well as extra specials on drinks and food. The final trivia night was hosted on January 26 for those who wanted to enjoy it one last time. 

Night time at Boonie’s. Photo by Ken Ketchie

One Facebook comment addressed a friend, “I know it’s not on plan, but do you want one last Chicago pizza?”

Boonie’s customers commented about how much they love the Chicago style pizza, so much that they made trips up the mountain. One Boonie’s customer commented that she made two-hour trips for the Chicago style pizza, another drove from Statesville.

Co-owners Clayton “Boonie” Miller and Chris Wilcox decided to close the restaurant due to the cost of rent in the current building and the end of their lease in February.

Clayton  and Wilcox opened Boonie’s for business in Spring 2021 and started out doing only carry-out orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Chris and Clayton both grew up in Boone, and their fathers worked together at the Wilcox Drug Company on Howard Street as teenagers. 

Boonie’s is their latest business partnership over their nearly 28 years of partnership. The restaurant was Clayton’s idea, and the name is inspired by his nickname growing up, Boonie.

When he was 20 years old, Boonie followed his brother Wayne to Chicago in search of better job opportunities and after years of working factory jobs, Boonie’s brother Wayne purchased his own pizza restaurant called Just-A-Pizza on Archer Avenue.

Boonie helped his brother run the restaurant and learned every aspect of the job from chopping ingredients to making the pizza dough.

When Boonie came back to the High Country, he brought his pizza-making knowledge with him to share with friends and family.

His dream of one day owning his own pizza restaurant became a reality when what was once a Hardee’s restaurant went up for sale on Blowing Rock Road. 

With the encouragement of Chris, they both decided to sign a lease in December 2019, just a few months before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In order to start business during the pandemic, Boonie’s had to start with delivery and takeout only. “That first week when we first opened, we were so slammed,” Chris said.

“A lot of people waited and watched our renovation and were really excited to give us a try,” Chris said. 

In December of 2021 Boonie’s opened up their dining room to serve the public at 50% capacity, which included about 60 seats that were socially distanced. 

Since then, Boonie’s seats at full capacity and is a favorite spot that will be missed by tourists coming to the High Country. 

Many will miss the bar that Chris’s wife designed and created by staining each wooden board and deciding where each one would be placed. In addition, the chalkboard wall for customers to write messages on in the room behind the host stand.

With the bar, came many gatherings of people who enjoyed the atmosphere.

“We want to thank every person that has eaten, drank, laughed, played trivia, thrown darts and watched football with us here at Boonie’s,” said Boonie’s Instagram and Facebook post.

Many customers shared their appreciation as well as sadness via Instagram. One comment read, “So sorry to read this. Wishing you all well!” Another, read “sobbing.” These comments were followed by numerous sad faces by Boonie’s customers. 

Many visitors enjoyed the unique recipes with ingredients that are shipped directly from Chicago. The menu features a special section, ‘Pizza Our Way,’ which includes the restaurant’s own recipes or customers can make their own pizza with the ‘Pizza Your Way’ option.

The real Chicago style pizza is a stuffed pizza with toppings on the inside and the sauce on the top. It’s sliced like a regular pizza. Photo by Ken Ketchie

Boonie’s largest pizza, which is 20 inches, can feed up to five or six people. Google reviews raved about the pizza’s sauces. “The owner, Boonie, knows what he’s doing with that sauce. Delicioso!”

“If you haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for,”said a Google review. High Country visitors and locals only have a day left to try the Chicago style pizza and other unique menu items.

One of Boonie’s cooks, Steven Stricklin, said he will always appreciate the hard work that everyone put into the restaurant.

“I’ll miss the people that I worked with the most, and maybe the voodoo chicken wings,” Stricklin said.

The bar at Boonie’s. Photo by Ken Ketchie