From the Classroom to the Kitchen with Brooklyn’s Pepperoni Rolls
A local high schooler created her own restaurant and has grown it into a family business
By Rachel Pasche | Feb. 25, 2023
What happens when a high school senior project transforms into a thriving small business?
When Brooklyn Hall originally had the thought to bake and sell her family’s pepperoni rolls, it was as part of an assignment to finish her high school education. She didn’t anticipate the wild success she would experience or the remarkable growth that would occur when Traverse City residents couldn’t get enough of her delicious food.
Today, Brooklyn works at and runs a restaurant with her mother and older sister, Maddy, where they’ve expanded their menu to not only include the pepperoni rolls that started it all but also from-scratch pizzas, subs, salads, soups, and more.
A Family Recipe
Brooklyn is now a 20-year-old with many of the same interests as her peers: music, friends, family, and animals. There are, however, some key differences between her and other young adults, primarily in how spends her free time, which is largely spent developing and toying around with new recipes and deciding if she should add them to her eponymous restaurant’s menu.
When she started selling her now-famous pepperoni rolls, it was for her senior project in her final year of high school. Brooklyn’s mom, Megan, tasked Brooklyn with creating a business plan to apply some of the things she’d learned through her school career (the last of which was spent homeschooled). The pepperoni rolls were the Hall family’s prized creation, originating in West Virginia, where Megan grew up. Brooklyn figured northern Michigan would love them as much as the East Coast had.
Brooklyn doesn’t come from a restaurant background, but she has always been comfortable in the kitchen. She spent many hours of her youth measuring, mixing, and taste-testing in her family’s home, which lent her plenty of know-how when it came to starting Brooklyn’s. Surprisingly, Brooklyn does admit that she tends to be a bit of a picky eater, claiming, “I either love something or hate it; there’s little in between.”
During the last few years of running her own restaurant, she’s had the opportunity to play around with recipes and develop some of her own creations, several of which have ended up on the menu. “It’s fun and fulfilling to see people enjoy something you created,” she says.
The original plan had been wholesale production, but was altered due to licensing and the complications that come with wholesaling a meat product. (Plus, the rolls tend to taste best when they’re fresh out of the oven.) As the business has evolved, they’ve turned back to wholesaling their bread products, whereas their other delicious and more complex creations are available at their brick and mortar location in Logan’s Landing or at several local breweries and taprooms, including Right Brain Brewery, Fresh Coast Beer Works, TC Whiskey Co, and Brewery Terra Firma.
Those partnerships, Megan says, are a great way to not only support other small businesses but also give people a way to enjoy the rolls in the winter months, as Brooklyn’s location currently lacks indoor seating. Their patio overlooking Boardman River is both picturesque and, according to Megan, the absolute best place to sit and enjoy a pepperoni roll…but you just might want to wait for warmer weather.
An Ever-Evolving Business
Brooklyn’s is currently operating as a small, family take-out establishment in the northwest corner of Logan’s Landing. What initially started out as a delivery-only service now has its own space, complete with a full (and drool-inducing) menu.
Outside of the well-known rolls, Brooklyn’s also offers Chicago-style stuffed deep dish pizza, calzones, thin-crust pizza, garlic knots, and cheesy breadsticks. There are even gluten-free pizzas that, remarkably, taste anything but, plus a new array of sub sandwiches that have been receiving glowing reviews from customers.
For lighter fare, the Hall women also whip up salads and soups that have garnered their own devoted fan base. According to Megan, “We only keep amazing items on the menu, or they come off. We want everything to be the best you’ve ever had.” This reinforces the ultimate goal of the restaurant, which is “to blow your mind with flavors and textures.”
This starts with using top-notch ingredients, which are mostly organic, and making everything from the dough to the bread to the sauces by hand. Dressings, soups, desserts, salads, you name it—the Hall team makes it themselves. They even shred their own cheese to ensure the flavors are fresh and the cheese is nothing short of perfectly gooey (they use fresh and brick mozzarella).
The deep dish pizzas are baked to order, so calling ahead is a great way to make sure it’s ready for you to pick up. Discounted meal deals and online-only specials—like the Family Meal Deal (a six-pack of pepperoni rolls, a large salad, and a cheese-stuffed deep dish pizza for just $55)—are a great way to save a bit of cash if you’re placing a large order.
As their business (and popularity) has grown, Brooklyn, Maddy, and Megan have adapted their model to meet rising demand, changing locations, menu items, and approaches to dining. While Brooklyn may eventually pursue further education, she feels that working at and managing her own restaurant is the best way to learn about operating a business. She says she is learning new skills and evolving as a cook, business owner, and person every day.
Find Brooklyn’s Pepperoni Rolls at 2036 West South Airport Road. The restaurant is take-out only so call ahead at (231) 642-5001 or order online at brooklynstc.com.