At about 9am this morning, I left home with my family en-route to Broadway Market for a little pre-weekend grocery shopping. Weekday mornings are prime if you hate standing in line, and standing in line is something that I detest more than anything.
As we were climbing Mount Pine Street, led by two sherpas, I checked my Android to see if anything interesting was going down. Unlike in my more “controversial” writing days, I actually check my own email now a few times per day.
While flipping through a few messages, one in particular caught my attention. Apparently, the new Capitol Hill MOD Pizza was opening on Friday, and they were going to kick off the event with free pizza.
I was at once stoked and skeptical.
I turned to my wife and said “Cool, MOD is finally opening on The Hill tomorrow, and according to this, they are going to be giving away free pizza. That place is going to be a mad house.”
Knowing I would avoid such a scene like the plague, she offered a suggestion. “Let’s walk by and see if anything is happening today”, she said, “if nothing else you can get a couple of shots from the outside.”
This made sense.
When we got to MOD at Broadway and Mercer, some employees were still putting finishing touches on the exterior signage. On a complete whim I walked up to one of the men and said, “I hear you guys are opening tomorrow.”
“We just opened ten minutes ago!”, he said, “If you are coming in, you guys would actually be our first customers.”
The first people to eat at the Cap Hill MOD? Ever? EVER?
How could I resist?
Imagine 30 years from now … walking up Broadway with my grandchildren … stopping to get a slice at the “old” MOD Pizza. As we sit in the dining room; paint peeling off the walls; flying cars whizzing by outside; Madonna’s 98th album blaring through the speakers; I look up and say “You know, Brooklyn (growing up on the Hill, my kids are probably going to give their kids hipsterdouche names), I was the very first person to have ever eaten here?”.
“That’s great, grandpa”, he’ll reply, “would you please put some pants on now? People are staring.”
It is a beautiful moment that I refuse to deprive myself of.
And thus, we gratefully accepted the offer to be the first ever diners at the brand new MOD.
We walked inside, and true to the gentleman’s word, we were the only customers in sight. Nobody else in the neighborhood had any idea that the place had opened. There was no waiting and no race to get a seat.
This, my friends, is my idea of a perfect grand opening.
I felt like Michael Jackson when he used to buy out entire amusement parks for the day just so he didn’t have to mingle with commoners. If only they could all go down like this.
We walked up to the counter, studied the menu, and I ordered the #2 while my wife ordered the #5. I balked at her choice of artichoke hearts on a pizza, but whatever.
As the pies were being made, we made small talk with the folks behind the counter and they were all super-friendly and seemed quite excited about the upcoming opening. I expressed some skepticism at the logistics of serving free pizza for an entire day, but they assured me that it was going to happen and although tomorrow is April Fool’s Day, the all day free pizza event is not a joke. MOD didn’t skimp on lame employees. Every one of the half-dozen or so people were extremely cool.
We took delivery of our food, grabbed a seat, but before I could dig into my own, I just had to try the artichoke heart thing. The vegetables looked out of place sitting on a pizza, but I’ll be damned if it didn’t taste pretty good.
As decent as it was, however, I still preferred my own pie. I am a carnivore, and pizza just isn’t pizza without some dead animals on top. I devoured my pepperoni/sausage combination in short order and it was exceptionally flavorful.
While we were eating, the owner came over and welcomed us. He seemed genuinely excited to be on the Capitol Hill map, and he directed us to the graffiti murals adorning the dining room walls (which were created by local graffiti artist Jeff Jacobsen).
Keep in mind that people have no idea who I am when I check places out. I use fake names (I forgot what I used today), and I act pretty clueless. Yeah, “act”, at least that’s what I tell myself.
When a mainstream news joint buffalos into a new venture with cameras blazing, they get their asses kissed. They aren’t giving you the real deal. You are not going to be treated like they are.
I, on the other hand, look like a typical Seattle grungemonkey. Just another local nutjob with poor social skills and a questionable fashion sense.
Still, I was treated exceptionally well. I think everyone wondered why I was running around taking pictures, but they were courteous enough not to ask.
As for the food, it’s more or less the same as the Downtown MOD, which is to say very good. While taking a little more time today and savoring every bite, I would definitely consider MOD to “gourmet-esque” pizza, and I remain surprised by the price. A slice of generic food court pizza in Anytown, USA runs about $3.50/slice, and for less than two of those you can get a quality pizza from MOD.
Seattle is not a town known for its bargains (quite the opposite really), so in my opinion, MOD Pizza represents one of the better bangs-for-the-buck in town.
In any event, I am glad that MOD’s opening day has arrived, and make no mistake about it, I will be a customer for years to come.
It also bears repeating that tomorrow, Friday April 1st, MOD Pizza on Capitol Hill will be serving free pizza all day.
You should come out and show your support for Broadway’s newest business, and for god’s sake, if you go for the free food … I can’t believe I am going to say this … throw a couple of bucks in the tip jar.
Here’s hoping for a long, successful run.
MOD PIZZA ANNOUNCES FOURTH LOCATION
New Brand Poised for Growth; Owners See Large Market Opportunity
SEATTLE, WA – MOD Pizza announced that their fourth location will open Saturday, April 2, 2011. The new store is in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood at 519 Broadway East, Seattle, WA 98102. As with all MOD Pizza locations, the Capitol Hill site is designed with the community and customers in mind, blending with the unique personalities of each neighborhood they serve. This new location marks the fourth store opened by MOD Pizza in just over two years – a growth plan that has been carefully orchestrated to test markets with different demographics including downtown, suburban, university and now a dense urban area. Based on the company’s early success, and with the lessons learned from each market, MOD Pizza has begun to develop a second phase growth plan.
The MOD concept was conceived in Seattle by a group of notable local entrepreneurs known for building a number of successful and innovative brands that were inspired by their passions. Founders Scott and Ally Svenson started Seattle Coffee Company in London in 1995, growing the brand from 3 to 65 stores in less than 24 months – while introducing England to the world of made-to-order espresso drinks and the coffee bar culture. In 1998 Seattle Coffee Company was acquired by Starbucks Coffee Company as their entry into the European market. Scott Svenson remained on as President of Starbucks UK, and subsequently President of Starbucks Europe, during which time he authored the company’s European Strategic Plan. Michael Klebeck, another successful local entrepreneur, played a key role in developing the MOD brand. As co-founder of Top Pot Doughnuts with his brother Mark, Michael helped introduce Seattle to hand-forged doughnuts, quickly developing a dedicated fan base while growing Top Pot to five Seattle area locations.
As the MOD brand has grown, they have enlisted a group of seasoned advisors who share their vision for growth. These advisors include: Lindsey Schwartz (President and Chief Executive Officer of Schwartz Brothers Restaurants), Adam Brotman (Vice President Digital Ventures, Starbucks), Jim Alling (Chief Operating Officer T-Mobile, formerly President of U.S and International Operations of Starbucks) and Paul Twohig (Chief Operating Officer at Dunkin’ Donuts, formerly Sr. VP Retail Operations, Starbucks and Chief Operating Officer of Panera Bread). Twohig, who was with Starbucks during their acquisition of Seattle Coffee Company, reflects the excitement among the board, “Personally, I see many parallels between the growth of MOD and what I saw with Seattle Coffee Company. We all feel this is an exciting opportunity and are working hard to prepare and execute a thoughtful but rapid growth plan. We feel the market is ready for this concept.”
The MOD Pizza concept is unique in its combination of thin crust, artisan-style pizza that is made-to-order and delivered ‘fast’ in a stylized environment – all at an incredibly affordable price. Co-founder Ally Svenson explains, “Our experience traveling in Italy never failed to inspire. There seemed to be amazing thin crust pizza on every corner. It was fresh, cooked to perfection and surprisingly cheap – their version of fast food. In the U.S. we could only get this in a sit down restaurant. There is a real niche clamoring for inexpensive food that is cooked to order and still reasonably priced. Chipotle has done a great job tapping into this niche with Mexican fare. We look forward to doing the same with our artisan, affordable pizzas.” In addition, she notes, “Our four very different locations have shown that this concept appeals to a broad demographic. We tested markets in a similar fashion in the UK during the growth of Seattle Coffee Company and as each store succeeded, we realized that we had a sustainable business model.”
About MOD Pizza:
MOD’s individual thin crust pizzas are all made on demand, using their signature hand-made dough and red sauce, both of which are made fresh daily. Customers can choose from a menu with inventive selections such as the Caspian (mozzarella, gorgonzola, barbeque chicken, barbeque sauce, sliced red onions) and Lucy Sunshine (mozzarella, parmesan, artichokes, garlic, with dollops of their signature red sauce), or create their own pizza, choosing from more than 20 toppings. Regardless of what toppings you choose, all pizzas are the same price ($6.28) and are individually ordered, prepared and cooked in 800 degree display ovens while you wait. MOD has also added a selection of salads to the menu along with draft beer. Sodas, wine, pizza knots and old fashioned Ding Dongs round out the popular menu. Music is a huge part of the MOD experience. On the company website, MOD Music allows customers the ability to listen, in real time, to the customized play list while it broadcasts simultaneously in each store. Created by the owners, the music and features The Jam, The Who, The Clash, and other bands that represent that style of music made popular by the MOD movement of the 60’s.
Downtown Seattle: 1302 6th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101 Open Mon – Sat 10:30am-7pm (closed Sunday)
Bellevue: 317 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, WA 98004 Open Sun-Thurs 11am-10pm, Fri & Sat. 11am – 11pm
University District : 1414 NE 42nd St, Seattle, WA 98105 Open Mon- Thurs 11am–10pm, Fri & Sat 11am-11pm, Sunday 11am-9pm
Capitol Hill: 519 Broadway Avenue East, Seattle, WA 98102
Open Sun-Thurs 11am-10pm, Fri & Sat and 11am-11pm