A fast-growing Dallas-based fast casual pizza chain is coming to Pittsburgh.
Pie Five Pizza Co. on Thursday announced a development deal with Peter Ballantine, a former McDonald’s franchisee, that will add as many as 34 new Pie Five locations in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and Pittsburgh is on the list.
“We’re starting the real estate part now and working to find good, highly visible locations in the right neighborhoods for this kind of concept,” said Ballantine, who is based in Harrisburg and is working with Cushman & Wakefield to handle the search.
The goal is to get at open one restaurant here within a year. How many Pie Five restaurants wind up in the Pittsburgh region depends on demand.
“I’ll see what the response is to the product,” Ballantine said. “To me, Pittsburgh is a great opportunity because the fast casual restaurant concept is not as far along there as in some other areas of the country. You have some, but not a ton.”
He’s also familiar with the region because he has family here. Also, Ballantine’s chief operating officer of 11 years, Bill Wyant, grew up in Pittsburgh.
Launched in 2011, Pie Five Pizza has 87 restaurants in 24 states.
Customers can create their own pizza or opt for a signature pie such as Chicken Carbonara or regional exclusives, to be served within five minutes. If you’re in Chicago, there’s the Windy City Works with Italian beef. Kansas Cityites can order the Jack Stack BBQ. So a special Pittsburgh pie is possible, but just what that would be stymied Ballantine.
“I don’t know that you could put a Primanti’s sandwich with the french fries inside on a pie, but the cool thing about pizza is you can do almost anything with it and it tastes good,” Ballantine said. “What’s interesting about Pie Five is they have a loyalty program called circle of crust where they reach out to ask customers what they’d like to see as a pizza. In one instance, it became a signature item. Pittsburgh customers may have some ideas.”
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