CINCINNATI — Lachlan MacKinnon-Patterson marveled at the pizza dough bubbling as it rotated through Pizzeria Locale’s brick oven.
“The other day a customer commented on the uneven size of the crust,” said the co-founder of the new fast-casual pizzeria, which opened March 13 in Kenwood. “I told him that’s supposed to be like that. It shows the dough is fresh.”
MacKinnon-Patterson added the exchange fed into the eatery’s larger mission of changing “how people eat pizza.”
“It’s not just fast food,” he said.
Pizzeria Locale’s staff, for example, makes dough daily with no preservatives and three simple ingredients — water, flour and salt. The dough ferments for 24 hours before employees roll it into 11-inch pie crusts. Customers then pick up to 23 ingredients for made-to-order pizzas.
Proprietary oven technology brings the “fast” to the “fast-casual” dining concept, with a two-minute cooking time for each pie. MacKinnon-Patterson described the oven as an “incredible engineering feat” that took three years to perfect.
“We need something that hits the sweet spot all the time,” he said of the Neapolitan-inspired pizza oven, which is equipped with infrared sensors and software to regulate internal temperatures and quickly turn around orders.
If the focus on fresh ingredients, quick order turnaround and customers building their own meal sounds familiar, it should.
MacKinnon-Patterson, along with business partner Bobby Stuckey, teamed up with Chipotle to streamline the upscale pizza-making process they started 12 years ago in the first, full-service Pizzeria Locale in Boulder, Colorado. Chipotle founder Steve Ells fell in love with the original restaurant and approached the pair about retooling and expanding their dining concept, Stuckey said.
“Think of it (the Kenwood store) as an express version of the original,” MacKinnon-Patterson said.
The owners opened three other fast-casual versions of Pizzeria Locale, two in Colorado and one in Kansas, with the help of Chipotle’s expertise before arriving in Greater Cincinnati.
“When approached about it, I was super excited,” said Melvin Henriques, team leader of 40 Chipotle stores in Greater Cincinnati, about being asked to help MacKinnon-Patterson open the Kenwood location.
Henriques said the owners, and Chipotle, selected Cincinnati for the fourth location based on the region’s reputation as a growing foodie community.
“We have a great culture here in Cincinnati,” he said.
Chipotle also lent out restaurant trainer James Debidson to hire and instruct staff on how to make the dough, pizzas, meatballs and budino, a butterscotch pudding with chocolate, caramel and whipped cream, from scratch. The location also sells a selection of salads and locally crafted beers.
MacKinnon-Patterson is already looking forward to opening a second Pizzeria Locale in Deerfield Township in the coming months.
“We are about building incredible teams and experiences,” he said. “We take the best qualities of food, beer and pizza recipes and make them interactive for the customer.”
7800 Montgomery Road, Kenwood