Pie Five serves up pizza in Kansas City in less than 5 minutes

As originally Published: The Kansas City Star 4/15/14

Pie Five Pizza opened its first Kansas location in south Overland Park.

The Texas-based chain of fast-casual pizza cafes does things a little differently than the average pizzeria: Customers order at the counter, watch as their pie is assembled and pay as their hot pizza comes out of a 600-degree convection oven. The whole process takes less than five minutes: Hence, the name Pie Five Pizza.

Customers new to Overland Park’s Pie Five Pizza almost always say the same thing, says operating partner Kerry Goebel: “Oh, it’s like Chipotle.”

“At first,” Goebel says, “we were hesitant to embrace that, just because we want to be unique.”

But now Goebel embraces the comparison — and even uses it himself — because it’s a quick and easy way of explaining how Pie Five Pizza works.

Like Chipotle, Pie Five Pizza has simple, industrial-chic decor and a focus on quality ingredients. At Pie Five, an individual nine-inch pizza costs $6.79, and you can customize your pie by picking out the crust, sauce and toppings.

I opted for the Farmers Market signature pizza, a veggie-heavy pie with marinara sauce, mushrooms, red onions, spinach, red and green peppers and roasted tomatoes. The hearty whole-grain crust held its own under all that roughage.

Other Pie Five signature pies include the Five Star, with pork sausage, pepperoni, peppers, olives and onions, and the Pesto Chicken Alfredo, with alfredo sauce, grilled chicken, roasted tomatoes and a fresh basil drizzle.

Aside from the Farmers Market, my favorite signature pie is the Jack Stack, topped with barbecue sauce and pulled pork from the legendary barbecue restaurant. Also atop the Jack Stack: Three kinds of cheese, caramelized red onions and sliced pickles. The sweet heat of Jack Stack’s sauce is what makes this pizza, which is extra filling when you order it on the classic, chewy pan crust. Next time, I’ll add jalapenos for an extra jolt.

Goebel says the Overland Park location was the first Pie Five to come up with a regional pie. The Jack Stack started as a limited-time-only special, but its popularity has elevated it to signature pizza status.

Pizza is the centerpiece of this cafe’s business, but don’t miss out on the salads and desserts on Pie Five’s menu. I’m partial to the Classic Italian ($6.79 for a full), an almost comically large bed of romaine lettuce brimming with grilled chicken, red onions, pepperoni, tomatoes and provolone shreds. The slightly sweet balsamic drizzle is so addictive — as is the huge pizza crust bowl that holds the salad.

To make the salad bread bowls, Pie Five employees form artisan crust into a bowl shape and bake the crust until it’s crispy as a crouton.

For dessert, there are dense cookie and brownie pies that cost $1.59 per triangle-shaped slice. When I went, red velvet dessert pie decorated with fluffy cream cheese frosting was the special. If you’re looking for something light, Pie Five Pizza has you covered with its under-500-calorie “skinny” pies and a gluten-free crust. So if you’re on a diet, you’re not stuck eating the meat- and cheese-heavy pizza the rest of your family craves.

Despite Pie Five Pizza’s roots in Texas, the Overland Park and Lenexa location (which opened in November) are family-owned and operated.

Kerry Goebel is an operating partner along with is brother, Kevin Goebel, and their father, former Applebee’s CEO Dave Goebel. Kerry and Kevin’s sister Lyssa Krumholtz is director of marketing and sales development.

“We’re one big, happy family,” Kerry Goebel says. And the family business is expanding: Another Pie Five Pizza at 91st Street and Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park is headed for an August opening, and Kerry Goebel says he’s scouting spots in Westport, Lee’s Summit and the Northland.

Krumholtz says her family plans to open three new Pie Five locations by the end of 2014, and that they could eventually expand west to Lawrence, Topeka and Manhattan.

Kerry Goebel says he believes fast-casual pizza is soon going to be just as popular as fast-casual sandwiches, burgers and burritos.

“We’ve signed up for 10 (Pie Five Pizza locations),” Goebel says, “and that could easily be 10-plus.”