Custom food is nothing new; Chipotle and other fast-casuals have been allowing people to have it their way for years. When Project Pie opened in Boulder last month, it did so with a "Chipotle-like mantra," according to its PR firm. Of course, it's not the only pizza place to do so. And when the founders of Boulder's Pizzeria Locale decided to open a fast-casual version in Denver last year, they went not "Chipotle-like," but got buy-in from Chipotle itself: Chipotle founder Steve Ells is both an investor and an adviser.
With then-silent partner Ells, Lachlan MacKinnon-Patterson and Bobby Stuckey, who also own Frasca Food and Wine, opened the first fast-casual version of Pizzeria Locale at 550 Broadway in May 2013; they'll open a second location in Highland next month. So far, they have no plans to retool the Boulder Pizzeria Locale to fit the new model -- so Project Pie will have the Boulder fast-casual pizza market to itself for a while.
Located on the Hill in the former home of the Pickled Lemon, Project Pie lets you build your own pizzas, choosing from 26 different topping possibilities; the price is the same whether you use two or twenty. There's also a "pre-designed menu" that includes a classic cheese pizza, a prosciutto and caramelized onion pizza, and other "white pizzas." The pizza are cooked in two minutes in a high-temperature, stone-hearth oven, and served to customers within five minutes of ordering.
Project Pie was founded in 2012 by James Markham, who'd already opened MOD Pizza in Seattle and Pie-ology in Fullerton, California. "Everything about Project Pie is authentic...our food, our staff and our brand, " he says in the same press release that touts the Chipotle-like mantra. "The students, faculty and residents of Boulder get it...they are going to get what we're trying to do and we know they'll dig our pizza, as well as the fast service, great value and badass concept."
He plans to open thirty more this year -- none in Denver, though, which means he won't be bumping into the fast-casual Pizzeria Locale any time soon.
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Project Pie is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. To learn more, call 720-550-8271 or go to projectpie.com.