On their wedding day, Nick and Jennifer Kelly took time to visit a place near and dear to their heart: Luke’s Pizza at 3111 W. Market St.

Nick has worked at Luke’s Pizza for about eight years and was most recently the pizzeria’s manager. The restaurant was closed that Sunday, so the couple had a quiet moment to themselves before returning to the crowd at their celebration.

“We just snuck in here and had a couple beers by ourselves and enjoyed each other’s company,” Jennifer said.

Luke’s Pizza has been an important part of the couple’s lives. Nick was working there when he and Jennifer got married, when they bought their house and when they had their first child. And on Wednesday, Nick and Jennifer officially became the restaurant’s new owners.

The Kellys said Luke Siele, the original owner, had been considering selling the business. Nick left Luke’s Pizza two years ago to pursue another career, but Luke approached the couple recently to see if they were interested in taking over the restaurant.

“We decided to go for it,” Nick said.

Nick and Jennifer aren’t planning any significant changes. They’re going to keep the name, the recipes and the menu the same, but they may add some rotating menu items, which would involve collaborations with other local businesses. The restaurant’s menu offers New York style pizza, chicken wings, subs, cheesecake, cannoli and more.

The Kellys add that the business has a rotating assortment of regular customers who have developed a deep fondness for the restaurant.

“It’s not just family-oriented,” Jennifer said. “It very much feels like family.”

Nick jokes that the restaurant is a lot like the fictional bar from “Cheers,” a place where everybody knows your name.

“That’s kind of the core of the business is the group of regulars,” Nick said, “and it’s a large group.”

The restaurant means a lot to Nick.

When he first started at Luke’s Pizza, Nick said he was just looking for a job. He had previously worked with Luke for a few years at Simm’s Pizzeria and offered to help out at his new place.

Jennifer said the restaurant feels like home not only to customers, but to the people who work there.

“We’re here to keep that alive,” she said.

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David Floyd covers Johnson City government, Johnson City schools and Ballad Health for the Johnson City Press. He grew up in East Tennessee and graduated from ETSU, where he was the executive editor of the school paper.

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