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

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Pizza Head is in good hands.  - JJ, BE NICE 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 are finalizing the details on their own initiative, which in form will resemble the previous Pay It Forward program, their name will have a different name. We apologize for the inconvenience.

When Dylan Dodson and Sam Driemeier first started being guardians Pizzahoved (3196 South Grand Boulevard, 314-266-5400) a few years ago, they never dreamed that one day they would own the place. That all changed last September when something inspired Dodson to contact Pizza Head’s former owner, Scott Sandler, to see if he would be willing to sell. As Dodson explains, he did not expect a “yes” or what he would do if yes came, but he still felt compelled to go for it.

“I just took a leap and sent messages to Scott,” Dodson says. “I’m not sure why, but it just occurred to me to do so. I figured the worst case scenario was that he would say no and I would just go back to my daily work. You do not know, before you ask. I felt there was a one percent chance he would say yes. ”

Although both Dodson and Driemeier have spent considerable time in the restaurant business, neither of them worked in it immediately before buying Pizza Head; Driemeier has been a pharmacy technician for the past few years, while Dodson has been in the manufacturing industry, most recently working at a cardboard factory. Despite their jobs outside the food and beverage industry, they both longed to return to the business, 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 past restaurant job.

“We’ve been there and we know how we wish we were treated at the time, so we want to take our employees’ input and respect their ideas, ”Dodson says. “I go a lot into communication, and I feel like I haven’t always had that in previous jobs. Now that I’m an owner, it’s very important for me to have it.”

Dodson and Driemeier are particularly aware of how the transfer of ownership can be felt by their employees, and they say they do everything to involve them and hear their opinions on how things are going. In return, they lean on the workers who worked at Pizza Head under Sandler to learn a great deal about the restaurant’s recipes and processes. Their guidance, combined with the time they spent working with Sandler himself when the deal was finalized, assures them that they are able to continue to provide the Pizza Head experience that restaurant guests have learned to know and love.

To that end, Dodson and Driemeier want Pizza Head’s loyalists to make sure they plan to keep the recipes, ingredients and menu items the same as they always have been. The only changes they expect are additions, not subtractions; the couple plans to extend the restaurant’s opening hours (they are even testing that brunch may be something to look for in the future), as well as its vegan offerings. They are currently working on bringing salads back and developing vegan cheesecakes, cookies and bread sticks, which should be available soon.

“We do not want to turn Pizza Head into something it is not,” says Driemeier. “We just want to take the same idea and expand it. Eventually we will see what happens along the way, because we will not run before we go. We feel we are doing well since the transition, so we will not do too much too soon. ”

In addition to the food, Dodson and Driemeier hope to keep another important aspect of Pizza Head afloat: it’s charitable efforts. In particular, the couple hopes to bring back their own version of the restaurant’s previous Pay It Forward program, which provides pizza to those in need as soon as possible. Even before the sale ended, Dodson and Driemeier worked with local shelters, nonprofits and churches to figure out how best to reinstate the initiative. Although they are not quite ready to publish their plans or the name of their new initiative, they are in the process of finalizing the details and hope to publish their vision for the program soon.

In addition to helping the hungry and homeless members of the local community, Dodson and Driemeier hope to focus on food waste, a problem they have noticed during their time in the restaurant business. They emphasize that they are committed to using their business to be a force for good, and they are eager to figure out ways to give to the community that go far beyond just serving good pizza.

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

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