CLINTON — A little bit of New York is coming to Utah.
The state’s first My Pie, a New York-style pizzeria offering “built your way” pizzas cooked in two minutes in an 800-degree oven, is scheduled to open in early December at 1737 N. 2000 West, in Clinton. The chain currently has other My Pie restaurants in Arizona, Nevada and Nebraska.
Travis and Alicia Johnson, of Centerville, own the Utah franchise rights for the Scottsdale, Arizona-based pizza chain described as “fast casual custom pizza.” They chose Clinton for their first restaurant.
“We felt like this was a great location based on timing and wanting it to be close to home,” Travis said.
The eventual goal is to open My Pie pizzerias in or near Salt Lake City, Park City, Logan and St. George. Their second and third stores are planned for openings next April and August in Salt Lake County.
Although the Johnsons have no previous experience in the restaurant industry, they says they were ready for a change. Travis had been working as a vice president of operations for a multinational manufacturing company, but constant business travel was beginning to take its toll.
“He was gone a lot, and we found that as a family we missed him,” Alicia recalls. “We decided to make a lifestyle change that would involve our family and our four children.”
They began their search for a business last October and looked at a dozen opportunities — 11 of them food related — before eventually whittling that list down to two companies. By February, they’d made their choice. The couple declined to name the business that finished in second place.
“When it came down to it, we wanted to do something that was fresh and fast — because that’s important to everyone these days,” Alicia said. “But we also wanted something that was good tasting and good for you. That narrowed it down.”
The Johnsons say it was the culture of the My Pie company that attracted them.
“They love to be involved in communities, to give back to them,” Alicia said. “They consider their restaurants to be an extension of who they are, with a focus on families. And that was our intention — to bring our family together.”
But what eventually sealed the deal? The Johnson kids.
“When we were looking at this we tried a My Pie in Reno,” Travis said. “And when our children — teenagers — became excited about the operation and the taste, that’s when we knew we had something.”
Travis likes both the family feel and authenticity of the My Pie business model. He says one of the reasons they went with My Pie is that their recipes come from the owners’ grandparents, who were from Sicily. What’s more, the owners grew up with two New York pizza restaurants that their parents owned.
Diners design their own pizzas, which are then assembled by restaurant workers. Choices include three crusts (including a gluten-free option), six sauces, at least that many cheeses, eight meats, and more than a dozen other toppings.
The one thing out of your control?
“You just can’t choose the temperature we cook it at,” Travis said.
In addition to the build-your-own pizzas ($8.95), My Pie’s 11-inch pizzas feature five classic pies ($7.95) and 11 specialty pies ($8.95).
Although Alicia likes the build-your-own option, she prefers the signature pies.
“They know what sauces taste best with which ingredients, so the pies they created all work well together,” she said.
My Pie also offers fresh salads, paninis (called “pieninis”) and calzones.
“We will also offer in Clinton an Italian soda bar,” Alicia said. “We know a lot of people like to create their own beverage — that’s a big thing, having a drink option like that.”
Travis Johnson says they plan on making My Pie the neighborhood pizzeria for Clinton and surrounding Davis County cities.
“There’s something for everyone,” he said. “If you can’t get to Italy, this will be the next closest thing.”