Pieology on Telegraph Avenue closes after 3 years

Anissa Nishioka/Staff

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Pieology Pizzeria’s Berkeley location on 2468 Telegraph Ave. closed its doors Monday after three years of operation.

The fast-casual pizza restaurant chain that featured a customizable pizza menu offering variations of crusts, sauces, cheeses and other toppings officially opened on Telegraph Avenue on January 8, 2014. Vanessa Legutko, a senior account manager for Henson Consulting, Inc., said in an emailed statement on behalf of Pieology that the Telegraph location was closed after “numerous unforeseen circumstances with the ongoing operating challenges up and down Telegraph that all retailers are suffering from tremendously over the last two years.”

“It has been a pleasure to share our love of pizza with the Berkeley community as Berkeley and the University are dear to our hearts,” Legutko said in the statement. “However, after sincere consideration … it has been determined the Berkeley Pieology location is no longer viable with the situation being untenable for the foreseeable future.”

Carl Chang, the founder and CEO of Pieology and a campus alumnus, cited the ongoing construction on Telegraph as having impacted Pieology’s ability to serve their guests.

Chang said construction reduced traffic flows to Pieology and caused the store to lose gas and electricity on occasion. In the end, Chang said, the Telegraph Pieology store was only making enough money to cover rent and the company decided to close the store.

“I’m an old Cal guy — that’s my alma mater,”  Chang said. “(So) it was a tough decision for me on an emotional, personal matter.”

The closure has been left to the speculation of the Berkeley community, who reflected on other factors that could have contributed to the Telegraph Pieology’s closure.

Stuart Baker, the executive director at the Telegraph Business Improvement District, said he believed Pieology’s closure was a case of an “underperforming location.”

“Personally, I always felt that the way (Pieology) was presented, it was really hidden from the street,” Baker remarked. “They just didn’t really have a very active presence.”

Dhruv Puri a regular customer of the chain who posted a photo on Facebook that received more than 2,000 user responses and indicated the Telegraph Pieology’s closure — said he was worried about the status of the Telegraph Pieology location before it eventually closed.

He cited the earlier closure of Pieology’s Palo Alto location in June and a noticeable loss of traffic at the Telegraph location in the summer as signs that the business could have been hurting.

Puri added that the campus’s new Golden Bear Orientation also condensed the number of weeks students and their families are around campus from the length of the entire summer to only one week in August.

“(There are) dry phases during winter break and summer,” Puri speculated. “That’s four months of the year (where you might be) losing a decent amount of money.”

Chang said, however, that he hopes Pieology can return to Berkeley. UC Berkeley has brought in new eateries to multiple on-campus locations including the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union food court, Etcheverry Hall’s new V&A Café and an incoming café from the owner of Slanted Door at Wurster Halland Chang said he hopes that Pieology can eventually join that list.

Chang added that he has reached out to campus officials in hopes to relocate “more strategically as an amenity towards the campus.”

“If there was an opportunity closer to campus (where we could) mitigate all that construction, we’d absolutely take that,” Chang said.

Contact Alicia Kim at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @aliciackim.