Just over three and a half years ago, Sohail and Samina Burkie, who lived in London at the time, sold everything they owned to move to America and open their own business. While the Burkies were inexperienced in the art of pizza making, the couple pursued their dream of opening a pizza shop in Houston and have dedicated their lives to improving their craft ever since.
The husband-and-wife duo are heavily involved in the kitchen, working with a staff of five. Both owners said they are in the shop before it opens every day and usually will stay until closing time.
The couple chose Houston after visiting the area several times and finding the people to be friendlier than anywhere else they had traveled, Samina said.
"We had the chance to move to Spain or Italy, but the people in Houston make the difference," she said. "We also thought it was the best option for our kids."
With little experience in cooking pizza, the couple dove in. Through practice and experimentation, they managed to come up with a style similar to New York-style pizza that has set off a chain reaction of word-of-mouth referrals.
"The community knows we are a mom and pop shop and shows support to us," Sohail said. "They've been with us through the good and bad, and that gave us hope and motivation to keep going."
The couple originally shared ownership with another party, but assumed full ownership at the end of 2012, changing the name from Home Run Pizza to Homebase Pizza in the process. Business has been steadily growing since that time, Sohail said.
The Homebase menu has also evolved based on customer feedback and the owners' experimental philosophy. Today, it features specialty pizzas such as the Greek Pizza with sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese and the shrimp pizza with shrimp and chili pepper as well as salads, pastas, calzones, subs and chicken wings.
All food is made fresh when ordered, including the sauce, dough, salads, spices like basil and parsley, and all the vegetables used for toppings on the pizzas. Consistency is crucial to success, Sohail said.
"That's the reason why we are here, in the kitchen, every day," he said. "We oversee everything and make sure it always comes out the way the customer wants and expects it to. That's what got us this far."
Grand Slam—Italian pizza sauce, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, Italian sausage, beef, bell peppers, red onions, mushrooms and black or green olives, made with stuffed crust ($9.19–$18.99)
Greek pizza—Olive oil, fresh garlic, bell peppers, sun dried tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese and black or green olives ($9.19–$18.99)
Meat calzone—Pepperoni, Canadian bacon, Italian sausage, beef, parsley, classic Italian sauce and ricotta cheese ($7.99)
Homebase Pizza provides delivery, online ordering and takeout service, but the owners hope to one day expand their restaurant to include sit-down dining as well. Owner Sohail Burkie said he envisions indoor seating for 20, and said he hopes to have something underway over the next year.
"We still have people Googling us and coming in, looking for a place to sit down," he said. "Many times people will just sit down on the seating in the waiting area and eat there."
—Sohail Burkie, Owner
First base: One large (14-inch) pizza and 10 chicken wings ($18.99, available Tue.–Thu.)
Second base: Two large (14-inch) pizzas with one topping each ($20.99, available Wed.–Sun.)
Family homebase: One extra-large(16-inch) pizza, 10 boneless chicken bites and four 12-ounce cans of soda ($20.99, available Sat. and Sun.)Party deal:
One 28-inch pizza, 36 chicken wings and two 2-liter bottles of soda ($59.99)
Every TuesdayOne 14-inch cheese pizza ($6.99)
17111 West Road, Ste. 103, Houston 281-858-8611, www.homebasepizza.com Hours: Tue.–Thu. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–10:30 p.m., Sun. 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m., Closed Mondays