Pizzeria finds ideal home in family-friendly Woodlands market
When Clint Price and Mark Rasberry made the decision to open a family-style pizza restaurant, the two—who are high school and college buddies—scoured potential locations from North Carolina to Georgia and throughout parts of Texas. From Raleigh to Charlotte to Atlanta to San Antonio, and countless pizzerias in between, Price and Rasberry searched for the ideal spot and the perfect concept to establish their venture.
That concept is now Crust Pizza Company, a family-style pizzeria located in the Panther Creek Village Center. Price and Rasberry said they chose to open their first restaurant venture in The Woodlands because of its family-oriented atmosphere and strong economy.
“It seems like there is a gap in pizzerias,” Rasberry said. “We’re not a Chuck E. Cheese or a CiCi’s, or a high-end restaurant,” Rasberry said. “We’re casual enough to come in after a T-ball game in your uniform or bring your wife on a date night. And the quality of food is better than you can get at fast casual restaurants.”
If there is one thing Price and Rasberry know, it is pizza. Rasberry said that he and Price took on a gut-busting research assignment in preparation for opening Crust Pizza Company.
“About once or twice a month, we would fly to Atlanta or Charlotte and we’d eat pizza,” he said. “We’d get sick of it. That was part of our process.”
Other than the lure of a strong family-centric atmosphere, The Woodlands also offered Price and Rasberry a more viable economic base with which to work. Many of the other locations they scouted were ravaged by the recession.
“These huge [shopping]centers were just ghost towns,” Rasberry said. “The economy was a lot worse off. So we decided, based on the economy here, to focus on Texas. After looking at all the demographics, The Woodlands was almost bulletproof.”
Once Rasberry and Price decided on a location, the next part was finding the right ingredients.
“We probably tried 10, 15 different types of cheeses, the same thing with pepperoni and sausage,” Price said.
“[Opening] was a little bit slower because we did that due diligence ahead of time,” Rasberry said. “By doing that it has caused word to spread and now we’re doing more than what we’d ever thought we’d do when we opened.”
Word has spread so quickly that, in a little more than a year that Crust has been open, business has been so good Price and Rasberry are considering opening a second Woodlands location.
The main attraction at Crust is, of course, the pizza. The menu features standard pizza offerings, but also unique combinations and toppings that would appeal to a range of tastes.
Other than the typical Italian sausage, mushrooms and pepperoni, diners can choose toppings such as cashews, roasted chicken, sun dried cranberries and baby spinach.
“We wanted to come up with creations that were just a little different,” Price said, “maybe not something people would think of right off the bat.”
“But we’re not so fancy where people don’t know what it is,” Rasberry added. “We still wanted to have familiar toppings.”
The menu is supplemented by about a dozen pasta dishes, from chicken alfredo to muffaletta pasta, hot and cold subs, salads and starters. But everything begins with the 17 gourmet pizzas.
“Neither one of us are chefs, but we know what we like in pizza,” Price said. “I guess you could call us pizza enthusiasts.”
Gourmet Pizzas ($9–$18.50)
Carl’s King: Pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, mushrooms, olives, red onions, red, yellow and green peppers
The Jerk: Jamaican jerk-seasoned chicken, caramelized onions, red, yellow and green bell peppers, bacon, mozzarella and cheddar cheese
The Capone: Meatballs, mushrooms, crushed garlic, onions, red, yellow and green bell peppers with mozzarella
The Original: Roasted chicken, Roma tomatoes, basil, crushed garlic, olive oil and mozzarella cheese
Crust Pizza Company, 4775 W. Panther Creek Dr., The Woodlands, 281-298-8844, www.crustpizzaco.com
- Sun.–Thu. 11 a.m.–9 p.m.
- Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–10 p.m.