The space that housed Pickled Lemon at 1155 13th Street on the Hill in Boulder will soon become Project Pie, one of several locations of a California-based pizza venture created by James Markham. Markham, a Carlsbad-based entrepreneur who has been in the pizza business for thirteen years, sees this new project at the Chipotle of pizzerias where custom pies are build in an assembly-line-like process from simple and fresh ingredients, giving customers as many topping options as they want all for the price of $7.50.
"Chipotle is one of my favorite places," Markham said. "Project Pie will follow that model. I tested it for months in test kitchens, burned some pizzas, looked for a certain flavor profile and something that would cook very fast, and found the best formula," he added.
Markham fell in love with pizza as a child watching his Italian mom creates pies for the family. At one point, he decided to make pizza his career. He sold a five-unit New York-style pizza chain called Knockout Pizzeria in San Diego. He moved to Shanghai and opened and operated a chain of pizzerias called New York Style Pizza. In 2008, Markham launched a custom-built pizza restaurant concept in the Pacific Northwest known as MOD Pizza and then continued his journey developing another fast-casual custom-built, pizza concept called Pieology. In early 2012, Markham decided to focus his energy on developing and launching Project Pie restaurants nationally and internationally. The first Project Pie opened in Las Vegas in October 2012 and a new locations opened a recently in San Diego.
Project Pie will offer 12 inch pizzas baked at 800 degrees in a custom gas-powered oven all built in front of the customer. Gluten-free dough will be available for no extra charge. There will be a menu consisting of nine pre-designed pizzas for those who don't want to build their own. These pizzas will cook fast not just because of the temperature but also because they are lighter and thinner than the traditional Neapolitan style, employing just six ounces of dough per serving. Aside from pizzas, several salads and shakes will also be available.
Markham plans four different designs of the stores he will open, all of which he is committed to adapting to the particular setting, environment, and neighborhood. The Boulder location is slated to open sometime in April and a Denver location is projected to be open by September.