OGDEN — For many Weber State alumni, a handful of places are near and dear to them.
Things like catching a basketball game at the Dee Events Center or seeing ducks at Ada Lindquist Plaza remind them of their time at their alma mater.
And for many alumni, college memories include eating at The Pie Pizzeria, located at 4300 Harrison Blvd., just northwest of the college’s iconic basketball venue.
Tucked away from the busy Harrison Boulevard, The Pie Pizzeria is a quintessential college pizza place: Wildcat memorabilia, an easygoing vibe, a photo of John Belushi on the wall. If you bring your own markers, students — or alumni, for that matter — can write their names on the brick walls inside the restaurant. Others have taken the liberty to write on the bricks of the fire pits on the patio.
The Pie Pizzeria has always catered to college crowds since its beginnings in Salt Lake City, according to the Ogden store’s general manager, Brian Horman. He’s worked for The Pie for more than 16 years, and is a Weber State graduate himself.
The Pie opened its first location near the University of Utah in 1980, a place called The Underground due to the fact that the dine in-only pizza joint is located beneath University Pharmacy.
And where was the second location? Why, in Ogden, of course. The restaurant opened its second location in 1996 near the old Rite Aid on 24th Street. In recent years, the restaurant moved to its current location on Harrison, bringing their pizza closer to the college.
“If you’ve gone to Weber State or the University of Utah in the last 20 years, then you probably know the Pie,” Horman said.
Horman said that all Pie locations, of which there are now six, are still locally owned and kept in the family. A second location near the U of U was opened in 2002 to accommodate carry out and deliveries. The Pie currently has locations in Midvale, South Salt Lake and South Jordan — all have carry out, dine in and delivery.
What does the management think of people writing on the brick walls? They actually welcome patrons doing so.
“We want to create a space where people have a little bit of ownership, like it’s their place,” Horman said. “One of the ways we do that is allowing people to write their name on the wall, in truth if we can create a space where people can create positive memories ... then we’re going to have customers for a long time.”
He did note that occasionally they will paint over the green trim in the dining area. But that isn’t the case with the bricks.
Horman grew up in the Salt Lake area and first visited The Pie’s underground location when he was 16, where he remembers writing his name on a wall at the restaurant.
“If you would have told me five years later I would become the G.M. of the Ogden location, I would have told you you’d be crazy,” Horman said. He moved to the Ogden area to attend WSU, and has been a resident since.
Horman started delivering pizza part time and became the store’s general manager at age 21.
At the center of everything at The Pie, of course, is the pizza. Horman said the restaurant prides itself in the quality of the food — and in particular the wide range of options available for all types of eaters.
The Pie has a wide variety of vegan and gluten-free pizza options. One of the many options is the Goodfella Pie, a completely vegan version of their popular Wise Guy Pie, which includes vegan cream cheese, vegan chicken and loads of artichoke hearts and spinach leaves.
If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary try the Thai Pie, served with a thin crust and complete with Thai peanut sauce, chicken, carrots, red onions and pineapple.
“It’s basically Thai food put on a pizza,” Horman said.
For the more traditional pizza consumer, there are plenty of menu options as well.
The Pie has a handful of special pizzas that periodically appear — and disappear, just as quickly. For now, the current special pie is a Polygamy Porter Pie, made with the popular Wasatch Brewery beer included in the pizza dough and topped with a reduction of the beer. If that sounds delicious, you better hurry and get yours: the restaurant only makes 10 Polygamy Porter Pies a day.
Next up on the specialty menu will likely be the Bacon Berry Pie, a thin-crust pizza that consists of chicken, cheese, red onion, feta cheese, bacon and topped with a strawberry balsamic sauce and strawberries. Both vegan and regular options are available, of course.
“It’s a little bit crazy but it’s so good,” Horman said.
Horman said The Pie is known for its thick crusts and loads of toppings, but he emphasized the wide range of options for vegan or gluten-free patrons. The Pie’s large dining space and patio makes it easy to accommodate large groups, and the patio’s overhead heaters make it possible to dine outside even amidst a chilly winter day in Utah.