‘Serve the communities that serve us’: Pizza Guys to open in Berkeley

Picture of Pizza Guys sign / restaurant
Ethan Lejano/Staff
A restaurant chain Pizza Guys has expanded its franchise, currently having upward of 70 locations throughout the West Coast. As another addition to Berkeley's food scene, the new location hopes to service the community through its fresh and natural ingredients.

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Pizza Guys, a West Coast pizza franchise known for its specialty pizzas and fresh ingredients, is opening its newest location March 1 at 1109 University Ave.

Shahpour Nejad and Reza Kalantari founded Pizza Guys in 1986 with the goal of offering fresh, high-quality pizzas on the West Coast. Starting from a single restaurant location, Pizza Guys expanded its franchise over the years and currently has more than 70 independently-owned restaurants throughout California, Nevada and Oregon.

“We decided to open a store in Berkeley because of its community,” said Alireza Vahdat, owner of the Berkeley location of Pizza Guys, in an email. “It is a place of cultural diversity and we feel that we would fit right in!”

Vahdat emphasized the importance of community to Pizza Guys, stating that they strive to become a staple within Berkeley and provide the best customer service around.

According to the Pizza Guys website, the franchise has donated thousands of pizzas to fire evacuees, hospital workers and frontline firefighters. In addition, Pizza Guys makes its pizza boxes pink every October to spread awareness for those fighting breast cancer and donates a portion of its proceeds to the American Cancer Society.

“We are the communities we serve and we don’t take that lightly,” the Pizza Guys website states. “Through this campaign, we have raised over (…) $235,000 towards breast cancer research and services. It is our commitment to serve the communities that serve us.”

The fresh ingredients that Pizza Guys uses are what sets its franchise apart from other pizza restaurants, Vahdat added. Pizza Guys makes fresh dough and shreds its own cheese every day while also only using fresh produce and natural ingredients, according to Vahdat. 

Additionally, Pizza Guys is home to a variety of specialty pizzas, including “Artichoke Fiesta,” “Buffalo Chicken” and “Texas Barbeque.” The chain also offers customizable pizzas, flatbreads, salads, pasta, wings and desserts, Vahdat said.

Soon after the pandemic began, Pizza Guys quickly implemented COVID-19 safety precautions at all of its various locations, which included cleaning procedures, sneeze guards, curbside pickup and contactless payment.

However, the pandemic has created challenges for the Pizza Guys franchise and the Berkeley location specifically. The process of getting licenses, approvals and permits has been extended as a result of the adjusted hours of many businesses and offices, according to Vahdat.

In terms of opening in Berkeley, Vahdat remains optimistic. He added that Pizza Guys has already received a lot of support, which it is grateful for.

“We are excited to be a part of the Berkeley community and look forward to introducing our brand to everyone,” Vahdat said in the email.

Contact Serene Chang at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @_serenechang .