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Challenging Pizza Norms and Winning Fans

Challenging Pizza Norms and Winning Fans

Pints & Pies wants diners to try something new and love it

Since its original location opened in Fayetteville, W.Va., in 2003, Pints & Pies has distanced itself from the typical pizzeria experience. “We’re a full-service restaurant and pizza is our entrée,” says owner Kimberly Shingledecker. She started the popular regional chain (now in 15 locations and six states) with attention-grabbing fare from the very first menu.

The current specialty section includes a dozen internationally inspired pies. The more a pizza pushes the envelope, the better customers remember it.

For example, The Thai, featuring curry sauce (in lieu of tomato), shrimp and fresh herb toppings dusted with toasted coconut, is a flavor combo that you’d expect to find in a curry-rice bowl, not on a pizza. But it’s a standby. Pints & Pies also run trend-driven specials that go on the permanent menu if they prove popular enough.

"We’re a full-service restaurant and pizza is our entrée."

An operator’s next question may be: How did the owners convince diners in a not-particularly adventurous market to experiment with their pizza tastes? Or are the specialty pies a novelty, with standard combos selling more?

The answers are in backward order: No. Specialty pies account for 75 percent of all pizzas sold, according to Shingledecker. And the owners introduce them by having servers suggest half-and-half pizza combos to every customer.

And it works. While not upselling in the conventional sense, this method got regulars to prefer gourmet pizza as a dinner experience. And Pints & Pies prices its menu by full-service restaurant standards, not pizzeria prices.

Specialty pizzas begin with a blend of provolone & mozzarella on hand-tossed dough, finished with roasted garlic oil & a pinch of kosher salt.

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