/Our Story
Our Story2018-01-23T19:48:39+00:00
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Our story begins many decades ago with our founder’s (Dean Bastian) family love affair with pizza. Dean’s father discovered pizza while overseas for WWII and brought the concept back to his family, making pizzas in their home for years, continually perfecting the craft.


Following his father’s love for travel and pizza, founder Dean Bastian visits Naples, Italy where he is further inspired to share his love for Italian cuisine.


In need of a wood fire oven to begin cooking up the future, Dean Bastian builds his own from scratch where all great things in the South begin – the backyard.


Fast forward to 2009 after Dean and his wife relocated to Knoxville, TN and started Hard Knox Pizzeria with no real experience in the hospitality and restaurant business. Since then Dean’s passion for great pizza and relentless desire to introduce Knoxville to his own brand of authentic “Neo-Neapolitan” pizza has produced a thriving business in the heart of Knoxville’s Bearden district.


Paul and Alexa Sponcia, along with Dimpal Patel, purchased the majority ownership of HKP and began the process of expanding, promoting, engaging in the community and upgrading the brand.


Hard Knox developed The School of Hard Knox, a concept engaging the local community, our under-resourced schools and communities and local chefs in food service exposure, and education for the purpose of providing opportunities, hope and careers to our youth in Knoxville.


In 2017 the ownership group renovated and expanded the existing Bearden store doubling in size and expanding the catering and service capacities of Hard Knox.


As a growing success in our first location in the West Knoxville / Bearden area, Hard Knox decides to create a SECOND location in the Hardin Valley area! Excited to begin this new journey, we welcome you to visit both locations. We are sure to have a fresh pizza selection for both you and your family to enjoy!