(By: Jonathan Bradley)
Hungry Ryerson students looking for cheap meals now have one more option to add to their list.
Pizza chain Pi Co. opened its third location this Tuesday on University Avenue and Adelaide Street West, less than 20 minutes away from campus. To celebrate their grand opening, Pi Co. gave out free margherita pizza for three hours and 14 minutes – a reference to the numerical value of pi (3.14). The lineup for the free pizza extended down Adelaide Street West and around the corner onto University Avenue.
Some people waited two hours in the lineup, while others – like student Maya Nava – arrived early to get a free pizza.
“I liked that it was thin. It wasn’t so saucy it overwhelmed you and there was a sufficient amount of cheese,” said Nava. “Pi Co. is very aesthetically pleasing… their food is actually good and their prices aren’t that bad. You can create your own pizza for $14, which is pretty good.”
Pi Co. is the first restaurant in Toronto to put pizza into a 1000 degree oven and cook it in one minute 30 seconds. Customers can choose from a large selection of toppings and watch their pizza being made right in front of them. Ryerson students would approve of Pi Co. as it is the type of restaurant in between a quick pizza chain and fine dining spot.
Pi Co.’s owner, Marc Askenasi, said that they’ve been giving out free pizza as part of their grand opening program at each location they open, whether it be corporate or franchise.
“We started it off and tested it out at our Bay location when we did the grand opening, and it was amazing,” said Askenasi. “[There are] 500 to 1,000 person lineups at every location we do.
“It’s a nice way of us coming into the area and thanking our customers in advance for their business but at the same time letting them know we’re here and creating a bit of a buzz.”
This Pi Co.’s location franchisee, Uri Hazan, said that he thought the event went well.
“People love it. I think it’s going to be huge in Toronto,” said Hazan. “The concept is number one, so there is no going wrong. It has to be successful.”
Askenasi came up with the idea for Pi Co. after coming across a similar idea in the United States.
“I turned to one of my best friends…who I grew up playing soccer with since we were eight. And it just so happens that he’s been in quick service pizza for 15 years and his family’s been in it for over 25 years,” he said. “I told him about the concept and the idea – things that I’d change and how I’d go about [it] – and he fell in love with the idea as well.”
Askenasi and his business partner, Sam Hazan, opened up their first Pi Co. location at Bay Street and Bloor Street West about a year and a half ago. The second Pi Co. location at Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue West opened six months ago.
Askenasi said they chose University Avenue and Adelaide Street West for their third location because they wanted to have a restaurant in the Financial District that could also serve the Entertainment District. He and Hazan looked for main corners in Toronto with high density, high foot traffic and an excellent cross between residential and business spaces. The location at University and Adelaide met their criteria and they took the opportunity.
Pi Co. is working on opening locations on Lawrence Avenue East and Don Mills Road, and Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue East. If they follow the same opening program that they have been using, students will be able to get some free pizza on their grand opening days – so be on the lookout!
(Header photo: Jonathan Bradley/RUtv News)