A pop-up pizza shop that operates about three days a month is preparing to celebrate its first year by donating proceeds to a local charitable organization.
Pie by Night is a four-person pizza operation that is run on most Sundays from the Polestar Hearth bakery on Woolwich Street.
Jesse Wallace and three friends were looking to start a pop-up restaurant as a creative outlet. They began operating Pie by Night in May.
“We started with 50 pizzas a week and now we are doing 80,” said Wallace.
Abby Richter handles the front of house during the Sundays that Pie by Night operates.
“We are lucky to have a really good customer base from Polestar,” said Richter. “They have really been great about us using the space and talking about us in the bakery.”
Pie by Night advertises entirely by social media to announce its menu and accept orders.
“Guelph is really tight-knit, which helps with word of mouth, as well,” said Richter.
With the help of Polestar owner Jesse Merrill, the Pie by Night crust recipe was perfected over the course of about a month and a half, said Wallace. The key was emulating a Neapolitan-style pizza crust without using a wood-fired oven.
“The most important thing about our pizza dough is that we make it on a Thursday and we ferment it for three days before we use it,” said Wallace. “Jesse (Merrill) has been so supportive of us in letting us use his facility. He also helped us with our recipe tasting and guiding us in the right direction.”
That process helps to break down the proteins in the dough, creating an airy texture with more flavour than other traditional pizza dough recipes, said Wallace.
Another difference, said Wallace, is the sauce.
“Our pizza sauce is an uncooked raw tomato sauce, so it cooks in the oven. It has a lot more simple tomato flavour, we don’t add sugar or salt, basil or any spices, it’s just tomato,” he said.
Pie by Night sources its cheese from Tomme Cheese Shop on Carden Street and it works with local farms for its other toppings.
“When it comes to vegetables, we try to source them as locally as possible,” said Wallace.
“People really like it when we get a chance to talk about the farmers we work with. People are really interested and they like to have a space to come to get good pizza,” said Richter.
The double zero flour for the dough is sourced from Quebec.
“This flour made our dough taste better than any other flour we found and it’s Canadian, which helps,” said Wallace.
Pie by Night has two signature pies it serves every night it operates — a classic Margherita-style and a mushroom-topped funghi pizza.
The team also devise two to three other pizzas each week it operates, which it changes up from week to week.
“It’s a creative outlet for us. It gets those creative juices flowing,” said Wallace.
Pie by Night operates on about three Sundays every month from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Check its Facebook page for a menu and schedule.
“Sunday works perfectly because the bakery is actually closed Sunday and Mondays and the restaurant I work at is also closed Sunday and Monday. It just kind of fell on a great day,” said Wallace.
In May, Pie by Night will celebrate its first anniversary. Richter said the team will evaluate where to take the operation.
The first order of business in celebrating the first year of operation will be to donate proceeds of its sales on the day of its anniversary to a local charity, said Richter.