Industry News | January 20, 2013

Project Pie Introduces the Non-Chain Pizza Chain

After opening a Project Pie location in Las Vegas last October, founder and CEO James Markham—the creator and innovator of the fast-casual customizable pizza segment—is planning to open another unit in San Diego in February 2013.

Markham and his team have expansion plans for the Philippines, New York, Washington, D.C., Boulder, San Francisco, and Atlanta within the next year.

"Project Pie is about real progress in pizza, bringing custom artisan pizza to people quickly and at a good value," Markham says. "Over the years, pizza has been topped, stuffed, and dunked to almost become unrecognizable.

"Now, it is time to get back to the basics with simpler ingredients that people actually want to eat," he continues. "We're not changing pizza; we're keeping it real and making pizza the way it should be made. The team that I've gathered is great, and I'm lucky to be able to do Project Pie with awesome people."

Known for making everyday artisan pizza, Project Pie's simple motto, "Don't Be Fake," speaks to every aspect of the restaurant, from ingredients to design to employees. 

Each Project Pie location is designed to match the character of the building that's already there. Instead of gutting the location, the new space reflects the local community, adapts to the building's architecture, and highlights the restaurant's central elements—including "the beast" (the stone hearth oven) and the menu (it's on the wall, literally).

It also features touches of local decor and characteristics, like subway tile, cool black-and-white imagery, and vintage industrial lighting.

While expansion is imminent, each location will feel like it has been a neighborhood hangout for years, attaching the concept of customization beyond the pizza to the actual restaurants themselves.

In addition, Project Pie has created its own radio station, streaming a custom mix selected by Markham, his friends, and the crew.

Project Pie's process starts with an old tortilla press that's been modified into a dough press, laying the foundation for a great pizza. From there, guests move down the line and choose from a selection of fresh toppings. The pizzas are one set price, and guests can add as many toppings as they like.

In addition to artisan pizza, Project Pie's menu includes salads, made-from-scratch oatmeal cream pies, and hand-spun milkshakes. 

Project Pie Las Vegas is located in the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, and the forthcoming San Diego unit will be located in the Hillcrest neighborhood.