A roadside restaurant on a well-traveled highway has some advantages — plenty of potential customers — and some challenges — convincing any of them to stop.

On that second point, Stacy Schlensker and Nicole Pearse, who opened The Stone Brick Oven Kitchen on March 1, figure having wood-fired brick oven pizza is a good start, and keeping long hours and offering delivery can't hurt.

The building at 681 Atlantic Highway was formerly Pizza Permare, also a brick oven pizza restaurant. But while the concept and the centerpiece wood-fired oven are the same, Schlensker and Pearse say it's an entirely new business.

Inside, they removed an interior wall between the dining room and kitchen and installed a 16-foot counter between them, leaving an open view.

"Your bartender's usually your entertainer," Schlensker said. "We've both been bartenders before — and your kitchen's usually thrown in the back. Here we really wanted the kitchen to be included. You can see how everything is made and exactly what goes into your food. Nothing is frozen. Everything's nice fresh produce."

Schlensker and Pearse, self-described "career restaurant people," met while working at Bowen's Tavern in Belfast. Both were eager to strike out and run their own business.

"We just really clicked on similar ideas and things we wanted to do," Schlensker said.

While driving around the region last fall, they kept noticing the wood-fired pizza shop in Northport that never seemed to be open. After asking around they connected with owner Bryant Hall, who agreed to rent them the space, still equipped with the brick oven Hall had imported a few years back when he opened Pizza Permare.

The Stone is the first restaurant either Schlensker or Pearse has owned. Rather than coming in with grand designs, they started with a simple menu, a few unique dishes, and plans to expand according to what customers want.

Pizzas come in one size, with a variety of crusts and a several choices of sauce, all made in-house. Beyond the traditional toppings, The Stone offers a shredded barbecue chicken pizza and a Jamaican jerk chicken pizza. There's also the "hand pie," which Pearse described as being a sort of mini-calzone.

For non-pizza lovers, there are salads, homemade chili and a "build-your-own" mac and cheese that starts with Pearse's recipe — a Union Fair award winner — with a variety of toppings baked in to order. There are gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options.

The Stone is open seven days a week, from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. most days — a little later on Saturday night, and a little earlier on Sunday.

Schlensker and Pearse are hoping the promise of wood-fired pizzas will attract diners from Belfast (7.6 miles to downtown), and Camden (9.2 miles), or catch some travelers on the way by. For those who don't want to make the trip, The Stone delivers up to 10 miles.

"This is kind of missing in this area," Schlensker said. "There's no place that does this."

For more information, visit: thestonebrickovenkitchen.com, or call 338-2600.