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PIE Wood Fired Pizza Joint takes the Italy out of their pizzeria

Pie1_LRBy Jacquie De Almeida
At 900 F, the wood-fired ovens at any of PIE’s three locations can cook up a 12-in. pizza in 90 seconds flat. The imported ovens are likely the only taste of Italy you’ll come across at PIE Wood Fired Pizza Joint. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything on the menu in Italian. Even a classic like ‘bruschetta’ is squeezed of its Roman flavour. Anyone for ‘tomatoes and toast?’

And forget about picturesque scenes of Florence or Venice hanging from PIE’s walls. Instead, patrons partake on all manner of pizza and sandwiches by the light of red neon signs while watching rock ‘n’ roll videos.

And that’s pretty much what co-owners Randy Feltis and Craig Russell had in mind when they started PIE.

Pie4_LR“We’ve taken the fanciness out of an Italian pizzeria,” says Feltis (pictured, right), a certified chef with 15 years’ experience in fine dining. In fact, his first job was at a high-end Italian pizza place.

“There’s nothing that says a pizza joint has to be Italian. We’ve stripped all that away and developed a place everyone can relate to and created a family atmosphere.”

Feltis and Russell fired up their first oven nearly five years ago, taking over a restaurant location in Barrie, Ont.’s south end that had seen five different businesses come and go. A second restaurant at the city’s waterfront came next in April 2013. Their success set the stage for the partners to franchise the business, starting with a restaurant in Pickering that opened in February.

“We designed the logo and branding from the beginning so that PIE would look like a franchise,” Feltis explains. “We knew that was the direction we would be heading.”

Host to the largest pizza-eating contest in Canada, PIE has welcomed world champion eater Takeru Kobyash and Canadian champ Furious Pete, both celebs in competitive eating. But when Food Network’s “You Gotta Eat Here” came to town, Feltis and Russell were taken aback by the onslaught of pizza lovers who formed a line for three days.

Pie3_LR“As soon as the show aired, the phones started ringing,” Feltis says. “We were at the point where we had to turn them off and they stayed off for two weeks.”

Feltis and Russell are currently working on a deal that would see a PIE open in Sudbury, Ont.; locations in Bradford and Newmarket are also in the pipeline.

So will Toronto get its own slice of PIE? It’s a possibility, although keeping the brand’s family atmosphere intact is a priority, Feltis says. A downtown location nestled in a landscape peppered with condominiums and the ensuing young single professional clientele is something to be considered.

“We would like to go into Toronto, but I would like to start outside the city first,” he explains. “We know what works for us right now. We’re a family restaurant in the suburbs and when you go into a city like Toronto, you kind of change things. The payoff is that if we can make it in Toronto, we can make it anywhere. Of course, if the right opportunity arises, we’d go for it.”

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One comment on “PIE Wood Fired Pizza Joint takes the Italy out of their pizzeria”

  1. We would like to franchise a location Pie pizza in Innisfil. Would you please inform us how are the proceeds. It’s much appreciated in advance.
    Be Well ,
    Sara

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