OGDEN — Thanks to their love of pizza — and a deep-seated entrepreneurial streak — a planned expedition to Mount Everest has morphed into the launch of a new pizzeria on Harrison Boulevard, Taboo Pizza.
Call it a case of trading one ambitious scheme for another.
“This is an entirely different type of adventure,” said Jennifer Holmes, owner and operator of the locale with husband Jeremy Holmes.
The Holmes opened Taboo Pizza at 3017 Harrison Blvd. on March 8, following the closure last December of The Pizza Runner, the popular pizzeria that had long operated at the location.
You won’t likely mix up the two operations, however.
The Holmes oversaw a massive renovation of the structure just south of the 30th Street-Harrison Boulevard intersection, completely revamping the interior and giving the business a new, modern look. And although they were fans of The Pizza Runner and were inspired by some of the offerings of the predecessor pizzeria — owned and operated by a different team — the couple spent months coming up with their own recipes.
“We’ve eaten a lot of pizza the past couple months,” Jennifer said.
She says they also became very popular as they sought help from friends with taste-testing to narrow the 300 or so recipes they went through before finalizing the menu selection.
The menu includes adventurous and classic pizzas, breadstick-type offerings (which they call Dough Boi’s), chicken wings and more. You can also build your own pizza.
Among the many Taboo pizza specialties is the Yin N’ Yang, which features mozzarella, chicken, caramelized onions and basil. There’s also the Hannibal, heavy on meat, and the Valhalla, featuring sliced sausage, mushrooms, red onions and basil. The Holmes are particularly proud of the Hot Boi, one of their breadstick offerings is stuffed with cream cheese, mozzarella and jalapeño.
The impetus for the new pizzeria came, in part, from the Holmes’ love of pizza. Also factoring was their desire to maintain what The Pizza Runner represented to them — a locally owned, mom-and-pop operation.
“We like little local places,” Jennifer said. “We just didn’t want to see it go. We wanted it to stay and be part of the community.”
But it didn’t all come together until they learned that The Pizza Runner would be closing its doors.
Drawn by the down-to-earth vibe of the Harrison Boulevard business, they had long frequented the locale. As they trained for an expedition to Mount Everest — to visit the base camp there, climb some of the smaller mountains nearby and gauge the possibility of climbing the big mountain itself — they visited Pizza Runner once a week. It was the one day they broke from their rigorous regimen.
In the course of those visits, they learned the 3017 Harrison Blvd. location would possibly become available. Taboo Pizza started taking shape.
The Holmes, northern Utah natives who now live in South Ogden, had some experience in restaurants and Jennifer says she’s long been a cook. Jeremy, though, said it was the couple’s business instinct that really kicked in. Both formerly held management posts in the healthcare sector, and together they run a real estate company.
“What we are is business people, entrepreneurs,” Jeremy said. The business, he maintains, is “a vehicle to meet a need in the community” — for pizza and an authentic, local experience.
Thus, they were sidetracked from Mount Everest to the pizza adventure, aided by a small business loan program offered by the city of Ogden. The investment in the Taboo Pizza building has been considerable and the transformation just as notable. The color scheme is white, black and gray, with big open windows looking out onto Harrison Boulevard and the Wasatch Front further east.
Most get food to go, although there is seating inside — at tables and along the counter around the perimeter of the dining area. And business has been brisk, 200 to 250 pizzas on a busy night, easily exceeding preliminary sales expectations.
“Through the roof,” Jeremy said.
As such, the business has drawn all their energy and focus. And that dedication has also had another side effect, at least for Jennifer.
“I’m never not covered in flour anymore,” she said.