Pizza Changing the Community 

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Pieology Pizzeria is turning the idea of ‘a slice and a pint’ on its head, and we couldn’t be happier! The Pieology Pizzeria located in Edinburg, McAllen, and soon in Cameron County offers extraordinarily healthy options for what is generally thought of as a less-than-healthy food, making it possible for all to enjoy this American staple.

Three years ago, when the owners of Pieology Pizza decided to open restaurants in the Valley, they knew they were bringing in a new concept with the introduction of ‘build your own pizza.’ Initially, they were met with resistance because no other brick-oven pizzeria offered anything like it. But they persisted, and now Pieology owns the pie in this niche market.  

“You need to have a burn in your belly and discipline to start a business that hasn’t been already proven to work,” one of the owners explained. “Now we feel proud that we jumped into the water and discovered something so successful.”

This accomplishment is heightened when the owners reflect on how the staff interacts with the guests. We interviewed several management teams, and they all agree that making guest connections when personalizing the pizzas is the best part of their job. “Every day is something new, and that is because of the guests we spend time with.” In addition, pieology staff really help bring people and families together through their mutual love of food.

The management team has taken this to heart. They were told, “we are in the hospitality business. You need to have a hospitality heart.’ This plays out every day with the idea leaving every guest to think, ‘Wow! It’s like I have been invited to their house to eat.’ We’re not just giving our guests a pizza.” 

Victor Mora, General Manager, agrees that eating at Pieology is an unparalleled experience. The staff and leadership team consistently strive to create impeccable service. “We’re not just in the pizza business. We’re in the people business.”

Pieology has also embraced supporting the local community; for example, fifty percent of their drafts are from local breweries. A Pieology employee explained, “We always use local vendors first; dealers and merchants from central Texas to the Valley.” As a result, the restaurant sources all pizza ingredients regionally. In addition, it provides 50% of our local craft beer, from the 5×5 Brewing Company and Big River Brewery. Guests of all ages are welcome. The kids are actively encouraged to create their own pizzas, and kid-friendly activities are available.

As the assistant manager described the ethos of Pieology and its practical application to the Valley, the passion in her voice was evident. “We believe in helping the community, so we have held fundraisers for specific events. For example, during the pandemic, we ensured our guests and our staff were always safe, and we exceeded the health standards set for us.”

During the beginning of COVID-19 quarantine last year, Pieology implemented a new phone service for curbside service and introduced delivery. They quickly adapted to the changes and became the backbone of people’s dinner tables when food couldn’t be found at the grocery stores.

 “We never seriously entertained the notion of quitting, even though it was a terrible situation,” the owners explained. “We even decided to open a second restaurant (the one in McAllen) because we wanted to show the community we are here for the long run.”   

This was put to the test this February during the Texas freeze and power crisis that affected the entire state. Pieology never lost power, so opened their doors, allowing guests to use their location as a shelter and charging station. 

Pieology operates under a core principle called “LEG UP,” an acronym that entails a charitable view of helping others whenever possible.

“L” stands for local impact, including Pieology supporting the community and offering the freshest ingredients by only buying local produce.

“E” stands for an exceptional quality experience.

This means that hospitality at Pieology is, without doubt, the most essential aspect of their business model. This is not lost on the leadership and management team. Mora said these values were significant to him as he was growing up. “My family always brings a lot of food to the table and never lets anybody get up because they’re serving them,” he said. “So, when I came to this restaurant, and I was able to provide that kind of service and ‘be myself,’ not just be a corporate robot, but actually come out here and talk to people … I’m very passionate about that.”

“G” stands for Gratitude – the staff at Pieology are grateful for the opportunity to serve their guests and one another. 

“U” stands for an unrivaled experience, and:

“P” stands for being “passionate about people” and having “pride” in your community.  

“It’s important to have pride in our community. Everything we create and everything that we have around us is literally who we are. You have to help your neighbor,” Mora said. “You don’t have to change the world, but you can change everything around you. Have a great attitude, be grateful and humble, and start making a difference in the lives of people around you. That spreads like a virus — a better virus than the one we have going on right now.”

Part of the business model includes creating an atmosphere where it’s great to eat and fun to work. The owners always maintained a healthy work culture; as Mora explains, “Pieology is pizza and community, and it needs to be fun. A huge part of operating this successful establishment includes employees feeling like work isn’t actually ‘work.'” 

As the membership team said, “It’s about the process. We need to enjoy the process and have fun. We should appreciate the position we are running, then the outcome will be great because we are not focused on the finish line.” 

A tenet of the company is “There are no funds without fun.” In other words, a person can work hard, connect, and have all expectations met, but if they are not enjoying their work, it won’t last. At Pieology, management and employees need to enjoy their jobs and grow with the company. As a result, Pieology employees are not just trained in their position; they are also actively mentored and guided by the leadership team. The expectation is that the leadership team will care personally for the staff and consistently demonstrate compassion. This, in turn, ignites a sense of togetherness and ensures every employee feels confident in their role. In addition, the culture instilled by the owners has provided opportunities to team members who started with them, earning leadership roles in the business today.

“You know, the owners here have definitely taken me under their wing. They’ve taught me a lot, and I’ve expanded and grown with them, and I always appreciate it,” Mora said. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity that they’ve given me by bringing me into this restaurant.”

Pieology’s tagline is, “Bring your imagination, we will take care of the rest.” This applies obviously to the unique pizza experience, but it permeates every part of the company. Through supporting the community, uplifting their employees, and putting the guest first, Pieology has made a lasting impact and created deep roots. 

As the owners of these Pieology locations say, “Success comes from making these persistent efforts every day.”

Sofia Aleman
Cori Smelker