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Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle

Crust Pizza continues to expand brand

When two longtime friends decided to open an upscale pizza restaurant, they sought a community with a family-friendly atmosphere and a place where the economy was thriving.

After searching from North Carolina to Georgia and throughout Texas, the high school friends from Katy found The Woodlands to be the perfect fit.

And particularly, they liked the Panther Creek Village Center. There, Mark Rasberry and Clint Price opened Crust Pizza Co. in 2011. Rasberry and Price wanted to open a restaurant with a neighborhood feel and nice atmosphere, and serve a quality product.

"The entire community just matched what we wanted to do - create a nice restaurant with a family atmosphere," Price said. "As big as The Woodlands is, it still has a small town feel."

Two years after opening their first location, they opened a second Crust Pizza in the Alden Bridge Village Center.

And earlier this year, they opened their third location in the new Creekside Park Village Center. They will open a fourth location on Rayford Road this fall.

"We wanted a restaurant where you can go for a nice dinner with your wife or feel comfortable after a baseball game to bring kids for a pizza," Rasberry said. "I think we get both of those customers."

Price, who lives in Woodforest, and Rasberry, who lives in The Woodlands, have decorated the restaurants themselves, ensuring they each have a similar modern, upscale look, but with unique differences. The front counter at the Creekside Park location is made with recycled barn wood Rasberry purchased from a local farm.

The hardest part of opening Crust Pizza was developing the recipes, they said.

"It was like a science experiment," Price said. "We played with lots of recipes. It came together through trial and error."

The food is all fresh and made upon order. All the cheese for the pizzas is sliced, not grated. And all the vegetables are freshly cut each day.

In addition, new pizza dough is made every four hours. That helps the dough to be lighter, Rasberry said.

"It's more labor intensive, but it has a better taste and a crispier texture," Price said.

Crust Pizza works to use many local products, including the gelato it serves at its Panther Creek location is from a gelato company in Houston.

Recently, Price and Rasberry discovered Fat Cat Creamery, an ice cream maker in the Heights. They now serve the handmade ice cream at their Creekside Park and Alden Bridge locations.

In addition, Crust Pizza offers beer from two local breweries - Saint Arnold and Karbach.

The menu includes traditional pizzas and some unusual ones, including Old Smokey, made with spicy link sausage from a butcher in Conroe.

Old Smokey was a pizza of the month, but customers liked it so much, they put it on the menu.

In addition to a large selection of handmade pizza, the restaurant's menu includes calzones, wings, pasta, salads and hot sandwiches.

Price and Rasberry have added a few family names in the menu, including two items named after their fathers and the Madelyn's Alfredo pizza named after Rasberry's daughter.

Rasberry and Price have chosen not to do much traditional advertising, and instead rely on word of mouth and grass -roots advertising, such as supporting spirit nights at local schools and sponsoring local little league teams.

"We want to support the neighborhood," Rasberry said.


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