Crozet Pizza's "quirky vibe" will soon be shaking up the Corner.
Crozet Pizza is coming to the Corner on Elliewood Avenue sometime before Halloween. Now, that's pretty exciting news. The pizza is legendary, and students on the Corner are going to go nuts for it. But for those familiar with the Crozet Pizza story and with the particular mystique it holds, the arrival of another one, right in town, is more than exciting news– it's major, like a realignment of our little universe.
Indeed, the idea of Crozet Pizza duplicating itself in another location takes a little getting used to. You think Bodo's was slow to expand? Crozet Pizza has been in the same spot for 35 years. It's an iconic destination eatery. It's like the White Spot opening another White Spot in another college town.
For over three decades, a journey to Crozet Pizza has been a legendary rite of passage for students and newcomers. A big part of the mystique has always been the drive out to little Crozet for slices of the most divine, homemade pizza in a quirky, ramshackle building with a wood stove, well-worn booths, and walls of business cards and other memorabilia. Over the years, that mystique has put Crozet on the national map and landed the little pizzeria on a bunch of impressive "best of" lists, including National Geographic's travel guide, which dubbed it the best pizza in the world. Later, USAToday included Crozet Pizza in a list of 51 great American pizza parlors.
"It took awhile," says Mike Alexander, who owns Crozet Pizza with his wife, Colleen, "but I think we finally found the right place."
The right place is 20 Elliewood Avenue, which was the Buddhist Biker Bar & Grill for many years, and most recently The Backyard. Alexander says the old building has the features that will allow them to re-create the "same quirky vibe" as the Crozet store, plus a much needed addition: more space.
So while the "quirky vibe" may be the same, the experience (which Alexander characterizes as "hip without trying to be hip") will include a lot more seating, inside and out, and a full-bar for soaking in the Corner's nightlife.
"I think it's really going to make a big splash," says Alexander, who has partnered with Trinity owners Ryan Rooney and Kevin Badke. "We're prepared to be slammed for the first several months."
After some brainstorming, they've also come up with an official name: Crozet Pizza at the Buddhist Biker Bar, reviving what they believe was a cool venue.
"It will really be a tribute to my father-in-law," says Alexander, "who started the place in the mid-1970s, and turned it into a cool place."
Indeed, Bob Crum and his wife Karen officially opened Crozet Pizza in 1977, and Mr. Crum hand-made every pizza that was eaten there for the next 27 years. In 2004, the Crums passed the business on to their daughter, Colleen, and her husband.
"It was his baby," says Alexander. "I just tweaked a few things."
This latest tweak, a major expansion for the the business, is clearly something that Alexander hopes will turn into something bigger.
"We'd eventually like to open similar places in other college towns," he says. "But we'll launch on the Corner first and see what happens."