Leaving sunny Arizona for Iowa winters wasn’t easy, but Urban Pie owner Justin Buck said it has been worth it.
He first opened the pizzeria with his business partners Derek Hamil and Blake Keating in Cedar Falls about a year ago. When they wanted to expand, they looked south for their second location and open in uptown Marion on Nov. 4. Buck moved to Marion to open the restaurant and is splitting his time between the two towns.
“We really liked the community of Marion. It’s a really supportive community,” he said.
He had previously managed and opened restaurants for the Barmuda company in Cedar Falls, including VooDoo Lounge, The Stuffed Olive and Bourbon Street. Then he moved to Phoenix, Arizona, and left the restaurant world behind. But when Hamil and Keating asked him if he’d be interested in going into business, he said yes, even though it meant returning to the ice and snow.
He said the chance to own his own business was worth it.
“I came back because I knew this would be something that was my own,” he said. “You have a little bit more passion, a little bit more motivation to do it, a desire for it to succeed.”
He pointed to the growing number of eateries featuring fast-fired pizzas where customers walk through a line and pick out toppings as part of the inspiration for the business.
“Fast-fired was something we felt would fit the market and do well,” he said. “Urban Pie is a hybrid between some of the more fast-casual pizza experiences they have now and a more sit down place. We knew we wanted to do pizza. Pizza, wings and salad are a staple.”
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At Urban Pie, a gas-fired domed oven behind the counter cooks the pies in a few minutes at about 800 degrees. Each pizza is ten inches and costs $8.95 no matter how many toppings are included. The idea, Buck said, is to make it easy for everyone to get the exact pizza they want.
Their menu highlights signature pies like the Mac Daddy, topped with mac & cheese and bacon, or the Greek Goddess, with olives, basil, artichokes, garlic and balsamic, but diners can also customize and build their own topping combinations.
“Everyone can get their own pizza, and nobody has to feel left out,” Buck said. “It’s really about creating your own experiences as far as what you want to eat.”
l Comments: (319) 398-8339; firstname.lastname@example.org
l What: Urban Pie
l Where: 1138 Seventh Ave., Marion
l When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday
l Details: (319) 200-2399, urbanpieup.com