BOARDMAN, Ohio -- With a plan in place to take Youngstown pizza to the rest of the country, Eddie Muransky officially opened the first Rise Pies Tuesday at 439 Boardman-Poland Road.
The restaurant, which has an oven that bakes pizzas at 600 degrees for 20 seconds shy of three minutes, can compete with national chains in terms of speed -- the store's motto is “Pizza perfection in 160 seconds” -- and quality, Muransky asserted.
“A burgeoning segment of the fast-casual [food] market is pizza. We looked at some national franchise concepts in California, and one in Georgia. And frankly we thought our pizza in Youngstown was much better,” the owner stated. “Some of our competitors … still used a convection oven that takes six to seven minutes. Some of them were using ovens similar to ours. But we think our ingredients is what sets us apart there.”
Muranksy enlisted the help of Vernon Cesta, the owner of Vernon's Cafe in Niles and V2 in downtown Youngstown, to develop a menu of specialty pizzas that allow customers to choose their own toppings.
“It was a round-table discussion. We have some specialty pizzas downtown and we created some new ones for here,” Cesta said. “It was just a bunch of recipes we put together with what we had.”
Most of the specialty pizzas, Muransky noted, are based on recipes that can be found at most pizzerias places. Among them are a meat lover’s pie — dubbed “Da Bear” in reference to the “Saturday Night Live” skit — and a barbecue chicken pizza — named “The South Side.”
He added that the chain would carry a Brier Hill pizza named “The Grandma.”
Cesta says the crust Rise Pie uses is thinner than that of most pizzerias. Muransky compared it to New York-style thin-crust pizzas. The thinner crust bakes faster to keep with the store's motto.
“This is all built for speed. When we did our test runs, that was about the average time that we topped out at,” Muransky related. “Sometimes it's less. Sometimes it's more. But that was the general average. We think it's a big improvement [on the competition].”
Without Cesta, the restaurant couldn't have opened, Muransky said.
“Vernon has such a great reputation around here with his restaurant in Niles for over 20 years, plus V2 played a role in the revitalization of downtown,” he remarked. “He has a great reputation in the community and he knows the business. We know the finance side, but Vernon is a food guy through and through. He knows it front to back.”
Rise Pies has stores scheduled to open in Sarasota and Tampa, Fla. By next spring, taking Youngstown pizza to the rest of the country will complete the vision Cesta and Muransky have had for some time.
Muransky said he's excited at the prospect of showing what the Mahoning Valley has to offer to the rest of the country.
“Everyone around here that comes from out of town tries the pizza and they like it. I've been told for a long time that I need to open in Florida,” Cesta laughed. “Well, Florida, here we come.”
Pictured: Ribbon-cutting at Rise Pies.
Copyright 2014 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
CLICK HERE to subscribe to our twice-monthly print edition and to our free daily email headlines.