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Grad is ‘big cheese’ of her own pizza shop

Alumna Katie Crouse started myPIE in March 2011. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Katie Crouse was born to bake pizza.

“I was born and raised on the pizza goodness,” says Crouse, whose father was the second franchisee of Black Jack Pizza in Colorado back in 1984.

Crouse started helping him when she was just 13 years old, working the front counter in a portable pizza trailer at festivals and special events.

“My father’s energy has always influenced me,” she says. “I saw the lucrative opportunities first-hand.”

And her mom gave her some advice she heeds daily: “She told me if I can get people to come in, give them what they want and, most importantly, watch the pennies, then I’d be successful.”

Even before she attended the University of Denver, Crouse knew her future was in pizza.

“During my sophomore year, my father and I would have lunch on Fridays and that’s when we’d commit ourselves to the dream,” Crouse says. 

Today that dream is real. Crouse is the big cheese of her own shop; she opened myPIE in Wheat Ridge, Colo., on Nov. 1, 2010.

But this isn’t her father’s pizza shop. First, there’s the “sauces.”

Her slogan is, “Pizza has tomato sauce, pie has infinite possibilities.” Those possibilities include ranch, pesto, teriyaki, garlic white, barbecue, hot wing and for those wary of change, yes, regular red tomato-based sauce.

The idea of those options didn’t fly at first. “There was pushback from the community, so rather than taking off, it has been very slow growth.”

She says she competes with all the other pizza shops first and foremost on quality.

“The quality of my food is amazing,” she says. “Getting a pie that is so fresh truly makes a difference in the pizza experience.”

MyPIE also offers delivery within one mile of the store by bike — an idea she borrowed from her dad.

“My father would do bicycle delivery in Boulder with his pizza store. My original vision was to be a fast-casual concept, and I didn’t want to be a pizza delivery company. But I think delivering by PIEcycle is innovative and it encourages the community to get out and ride their bikes. It also reduces the strain on resources and it’s great for our bodies.”

The shop is heavy on social causes.

“I believe if we want to see a change in the direction the country’s going, it’s going to be business and not government that leads us there,” Crouse says. “When people begin to realize the power and efficiency of the market, I hope they spend their dollars with companies that represent their personal values. I’m a social entrepreneur, and I want that to make a difference in where people spend their money.”

Crouse says she has more than $5,000 saved in a scholarship fund, and one day a month, she donates 31.4 percent of her sales to the community. (Get it? 3.14 equals pi as in pie.)

“I have many big dreams of how myPIE can give back,” she says. “Together we can change the status quo. There are infinite possibilities.”

Crouse gives a lot of credit to DU for her success.

“My DU education is so important to what I’m doing,” Crouse says. “It forced me to be disciplined, and in many subconscious ways, I’m applying what I learned. I have more business confidence.”

Immediately after graduating, she says she used her business education to project myPIE financials to three years out to get a loan and completed a business plan with a “wicked” positioning statement.

“Saying you graduated with a BSBA from DU sometimes will give me instant credibility,” she says.

Her advice for today’s entrepreneurial-minded DU students thinking of opening their own business someday: “Always follow through. Follow up with every call and carry everything through to the end, and surround yourself with people who will help you and make as many friends as possible. And, oh man, be prepared to work hard and be rewarded.”

For more information or to order a pie, visit

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