Pizza Head’s new owners promise great pizza served with integrity

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  • JJ, BE LOVELY PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Pizza Head is in good hands.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story referred to Pizza Head’s upcoming philanthropic efforts as the “Pay It Forward” program. Pay It Forward was the name of the program under the restaurant’s previous owner. While Dodson and Driemeier finalize details on their own that will be similar in form to the old Pay It Forward program, theirs will have a different name. We regret the error.

When Dylan Dodson and Sam Driemeier started dating Pizza head (3196 Grand Boulevard South, 314-266-5400) a few years ago, they never imagined that they would one day own the place. That all changed last September when something inspired Dodson to contact former Pizza Head owner Scott Sandler to see if he would be ready to sell. As Dodson explains, he didn’t expect a “yes,” or even what he would do if that yes came, but he still felt compelled to go.

“I just took the plunge and messaged Scott,” Dodson said. “I don’t know why, but it occurred to me to do it. I thought the worst case scenario was that he would say no and I would just go back to my day job. You don’t know. not before asking. I felt like there was a 1% chance he would say yes.”

Although Dodson and Driemeier spent a lot of time in the restaurant business, neither of them worked there until they bought Pizza Head; Driemeier has been a pharmacy technician for the past several years, while Dodson has worked in the manufacturing industry, most recently working in a cardboard factory. Despite their jobs outside of the food and beverage field, they both wanted to come back to the company, both because of a genuine passion for it, as well as a desire to be the change they wanted to see in many of their old restaurant jobs.

“We’ve been there and we know how we want to be treated back then, so we want to take the advice of our employees and respect their ideas,” said Dodson. “I’m very keen on communication and I feel like I haven’t always had this in my previous jobs. Now that I’m an owner, it’s very important for me to have this.”

Dodson and Driemeier are particularly aware of how the ownership transition can be felt by their employees, and they say they do everything possible to involve them and hear their opinions on how things are going. In turn, they rely on the workers who worked at Pizza Head under Sandler to learn a lot about the restaurant’s recipes and processes. Their advice, coupled with the time they spent working alongside Sandler himself during the finalization of the deal, makes them confident that they are able to continue to deliver the Pizza Head experience that customers in the restaurant know and love.

To that end, Dodson and Driemeier want Pizza Head loyalists to rest assured that they plan to keep recipes, ingredients and menu items as they always have been. The only changes they anticipate are additions, not subtractions; the duo plan to extend the restaurant’s opening hours (they’re even testing that brunch may be something to watch out for in the future), as well as their vegan offerings. Currently, they are working on bringing back salads and developing vegan cheese bread, cookies and breadsticks, which should be available soon.

“We don’t want to turn Pizza Head into something it’s not,” says Driemeier. “We just want to take the same idea and develop it. Eventually we’ll see what happens later, because we don’t want to run before we walk. We feel like we’re doing fine since the transition, so we don’t want to. don’t do too much too soon.”

Beyond food, Dodson and Driemeier hope to maintain another important aspect of Pizza Head: it’s charitable efforts. In particular, the couple are hoping to bring back their own version of the restaurant’s old Pay It Forward program as soon as possible, which provides pizza to those in need. Even before the sale was finalized, Dodson and Driemeier worked with local shelters, nonprofits and churches to determine how best to restore the initiative. While they’re not quite ready to announce their plans or the name of their new initiative, they are in the process of finalizing the details and hope to release their vision for the program soon.

In addition to helping hungry and homeless members of the community, Dodson and Driemeier hope to focus on food waste, an issue they noticed during their time in the restaurant business. They emphasize that they are determined to use their business to be a force for good, and they are eager to find ways to give back to the community that go beyond just serving great pizza.

“Now we are able to be a small part of the solution,” Dodson says.

We are always eager for advice and feedback. Email the author at [email protected]

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