News / People

Alum takes slice of local pizza market

For Phil Coan (BSBA finance ’07) and Mark Huebner, a good business idea is simple: Create a good product and bring it to the masses.

The rest, they say, should fall into place, and that is exactly what is happening for the partners who own and run the Denver Pizza Co., a Denver-based takeout and delivery pizzeria. They have two locations at 5022 E. Hampden Ave. and 309 W. 11th St. with a third in the works. They say the short-term goal is to be running five stores within two years. Long-term planning? Global expansion.

“We’ve been doing great,” says Coan, who earned his bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Denver in 2007. “We started profiting [at our second location] in the first month of operation [in August 2010].” It was in his operational business courses at DU that Coan learned a little hard work, a strong marketing campaign and a quality product would result in a positive outcome.

Despite a slumping economy, the partners weren’t worried about whether their business would thrive.

“That’s the thing about the quick service industry — you can serve a family for as much as you can go out to eat yourself.” Pies range from $5 (8-inch personal) to $15 (18-inch extra-large). Specialty pies cost more. Coan’s favorite is “The Hero,” which has tzatziki sauce, lamb, feta, kalamata olives, tomato and basil leaves. Huebner’s favorite is “The 5280” which has mozzarella, pepperoni, mushrooms and a special blend of spices.

Calzones, salads and Glacier ice cream also are offered.

Their competitors, the partners say, are the places that are locally grown and owned — say, an Anthony’s Pizza and Pasta — but Coan and Huebner are confident they can take them over eventually. That’s because they claim the “highest quality” ingredients — they shred their cheese daily off the block, bake dough daily and use Wisconsin mozzarella, which is not only “delicious” but has a lower fat content, Coan says.

They offer 32 toppings and gluten-free options.

“The toughest part is getting the doors open and people in them,” Coan says. But that seems to have been covered.

Huebner got some national exposure as a contestant on season five of ABC’s The Bachelorette, which he admits he did for Denver Pizza Co. publicity. On the show, Huebner’s profession was simply dubbed as “pizza entrepreneur,” a fitting description since neither partner had any prior culinary experience.

“We cooked for nine months straight so we knew what we were serving,” Huebner says.

But maybe more than the importance of culinary skill, Huebner knew his product. “I love pizza,” the Chicago-native says. “In Chicago, it’s a part of the culture. Growing up, once a week was pizza night. No matter what happened, it was a good day because it was pizza day.”

It was Huebner who had found the pizza recipe they would come to use. Shortly after moving to Boulder for college, he stumbled upon a small, family-owned pizza place in a small Colorado mountain town and used their recipe as the basis of what they now serve.

Recently, the duo has been making their presence known by donating food to charity fundraisers and events throughout the Denver area. It not only gets the word out about the food, Coan says, but has the added benefit of giving back.

“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make people happy,” he says. “I love hearing people who eat our food say that it was a great experience and that they love the food.”

The Denver Pizza Co. is open Fri.–Sat. from 11 a.m.–midnight. and Sun.–Thurs. from 11 a.m. –11 p.m.

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