Raleigh, N.C. — A long line snaked around the edge of North Hill's newest pizza shop, Pieology, during the lunch rush on Friday.
The joint's soft opening marks only the second North Carolina location for the fast-casual chain based in Tennessee. But Chuck McAuley, the company's director of marketing and public relations, was sure the pick-your-own pizza place would take off like he said it had in other locations.
"(First) you have to get it up to speed," McAuley said from inside the bustling restaurant.
Roughly two dozen employees—many in training—buzzed through the food line and next to a large, open oven. A few of those employees were trainers from other locations brought in to get the Raleigh shop up and running.
The concept works much like Chipotle: customers walk down a line of ingredients and pick whatever they're in the mood for; employees then pop the pie into the oven and walk it out to you when it's ready. The 11.5-inch custom pizzas are around $9, but toppings are free—and unlimited.
Not in the mood for pizza? The chain also has salads, wine and beer.
Friday's soft opening ran on the slower end of McAuley's 12- to 15-minute ideal time from walking in the door to the first bite. With a little more training, it'll be hard to beat the time to satisfy a quick pizza craving.
The pie: Whole wheat crust, red sauce, gorgonzola cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes, green peppers, red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, sausage
Time: Just more than 15 minutes from walking in the door to having the pizza on the table.
The verdict: The ingredients tasted fresh, and there were plenty to choose from. A thin crust and a hot oven delivered crispy edges and just enough charred bits on the bottom to make it taste like a more expensive pizza.
With unlimited toppings, low cost and relatively quick prep times, Pieology is a good stop for a quick lunch.
Pieology's official opening in Monday, July 18 at 11 a.m.