“Pizza Man” Joe Farruggio plans to convert a former H Street NE funeral home into a new outpost for his 90 Second Pizza chain.

A Farruggio affiliate, 420 H Street NE LLC, on Dec. 30 acquired the four-story former B.K. Henry Funeral Chapel building for $1.5 million, or $433.12 per square foot, from an affiliate of Brian K. Henry, according to the D.C. Recorder of Deeds. It will become one of at least three new locations for 90 Second, building off its initial spot at 1077 Wisconsin Ave. NW in Georgetown that opened in 2018.

The restaurateur behind Il Canale and A Modo Mio also plans two other 90 Second locations, at 708 Seventh St. NW in Chinatown, and by 14th and U streets NW. Farruggio, who released a memoir late last year called “My Name is Joe and I am a Pizza Man, An American Story,” was determined to emerge as the winning bidder for 420 H St. NE after getting outbid on a few other prospects, according to Adam Costanzo, a senior investment associate for Feldman Ruel Urban Property Advisors, who represented Farruggio in the deal.

“He had always expressed his desire to get onto H Street,” Costanzo said. “Once he saw 420, he saw it was on a corner — he had missed out on a couple of deals — and said, ‘Let’s go get it.’”

The funeral home, which closed in 2018, had previously agreed in 2012 to pay a $25,000 civil penalty to resolve charges it violated a federal rule requiring it to show prices to consumers shopping for caskets. Henry retained Feldman Ruel Urban Property Advisors to market the roughly 3,521-square-foot building for sale after a handful of other brokerages were unable to find the right buyer, per Ryan Smith, an associate director at Feldman Ruel who represented the seller along with Josh Feldman and Ian Ruel.

The property sits in the same block as Bar Elena, Sticky Fingers and The Boiling Crab, not to mention the controversial Big Board, which reopened in April after being forced to shut down due to violating public health requirements tied to the pandemic. It's flanked about a block to the west and east along the H Street corridor streetcar line by a Giant and a Whole Foods Market. The property’s marketing team anticipated there would be strong demand provided they set the right asking price and were open about its use as a funeral home. It hit the market at $1.75 million.

"We were very transparent about the former use of the property, as we are with all of the assets that we bring to the market," Smith said. "We received a lot of interest, and we had multiple offers, but we received continuous calls because of the exposure the property offers being on the corner next to Whole Foods Market."

A number of prospective buyers emerged during the roughly three-month marketing period, with proposed uses ranging from a dental office, general office space to support nearby retail stores, even a few thinking of operating a new funeral home. Ultimately, Smith said it came down to two bidders, and Farruggio’s offer won out for a number of reasons, including his track record and willingness to make a noncontingent offer.

As for Farruggio, the location was appealing to him for a number of reasons, he said, not the least of which were the multifamily developments that have sprung up along the corridor and its supporting nightlife. The pizzeria's planned spot by 14th and U was attractive for the same reason, while the Chinatown spot and the original location in Georgetown draw more heavily on tourist foot traffic.

Farruggio wanted to be sure he had refined the model for 90 Second with its initial location in Georgetown before plotting a larger expansion for the restaurant, which churns out Neapolitan pizza in a minute and a half from ovens heated to more than 800 degrees. If all goes well this year, he aims to double the number of locations in 2024 and to franchise in the future. He said the managers at its locations will be brought on as partners with the potential to own one of those franchises. He will also look to expand into Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland, as well.

"Right now, I want to grow to up to four stores in 2023, and then we’ll evaluate each location,” he said. “And the next year, we’ll do eight stores, 10 stores, who knows?"