If you go
› Where: Your Pie, 1919 Gunbarrel Road, Suite 103
› Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday
› Prices: $1.99 gelato to $7.99 for 10-inch pizza
› Alcohol: Craft beer and wine
› Phone: 423-498-4948
Your Pie, one of the latest eateries to hit Gunbarrel Road, invites diners to craft their own pizzas. It's like the Subway of pizzerias.
Owner Drew French wants to operate 100 restaurants by the end of the year, says local team member Jessica Rigsby. The Chattanooga store is his 54th.
French got the idea for Your Pie in 2006 at age 22 after visiting his new wife's home country of Italy, according to the restaurant's website. He opened the first Your Pie two years later in Athens, Georgia, and changed the way people experience pizza.
Your Pie encourages customers to get "exactly what you want with your choice of ingredients and any toppings." The store slogan is "Express your inner pizza."
There wasn't a lot of help knowing what to do at Your Pie when I walked in the door.
The signs have clear instructions about how to order and are perfectly placed so customers can see them, but I still would have appreciated someone explaining my options on my first visit. I could have read all three signs and figured out my own game plan, but I kept thinking I was spending too much time studying the signs, holding up customers behind me and I should start ordering.
The people behind the counter waited patiently as I tried to figure things out. I wished they'd offered some selections to me. But they've only been open a couple of months and I got the impression they're still figuring things out themselves.
But the guy working the cash register was ready for me. He started our interaction with an enthusiastic hello and a smile. He showed me the machine for inserting my chip card and offered me a drink. And when I forgot to take my number to my seat so the server would know where to bring my pizza, he brought it to me.
Diners tell a team member if they want wheat or white or gluten-free bread dough, what sauce and toppings they want, and the team member quickly puts them together as they are ordered. Pay at the register while the pizza goes into the oven. Drinks are self-serve.
Choose a seat, and minutes later a team member brings the pizza straight from the brick oven to the table. Perfect for friends who have time to talk and for an employee on a lunch break who needs to stay on schedule.
The restaurant is in an open, spacious, red-brick building that goes with the flaming brick oven where the pizzas are cooked.
It has tables to seat couples up to groups of eight, with lots of seating indoors and out. There's a flat-screen TV hanging in the corner and music. I liked the atmosphere. I especially liked being in the open, well-lit space. It's more open than any pizza place in which I've been.
Your Pie allows customers to create their own pizzas by choosing from three different types of dough, six sauces and seven cheeses, or customers may create their own combinations of cheeses and sauces. Meat choices include pepperoni, bacon, chicken, Italian sausage, meatball, ham, turkey and salami. There are 17 veggie choices.
Customers can also choose to create their own panini or bread bowl salad with the same ingredients. Each main entree selection, including the 10-inch pizza, salad or panini, is $7.99 — no matter how many toppings.
The store also offers classic pizzas with predetermined ingredients.
There is a $3.99 combo option to add a 20-ounce drink to your meal with choice of either side salad, chips or two scoops of gelato.
The $5.99 kid's meal for ages under 12 includes 7-inch pizza or half a panini or side salad, a 12-ounce drink and a scoop of gelato.
Desserts include gelato ($1.99-$2.99) and brownies ($2.49).
My choice was wheat dough with marinara sauce. I went with the basics since it was my first visit. I topped the marinara with shredded mozzarella, mushrooms, banana peppers, black and green olives, jalapenos, tomatoes and onions.
If I'd made decisions faster, I would have gotten more food, but I had trouble imagining the taste combinations, so I stopped right there.
Then I started worrying if I had the right mix to create a taste. I even asked the server about sauces that I may use for dipping just in case my pie was bland. I saw jalapeno honey mustard, ranch and balsamic vinaigrette dressings. He told me he could add them to my pizza, but he suggested I wait. I could have them on the side if I still needed them.
Sure enough, when the pizza came out, it looked delicious and the taste was awesome. I thought I'd need sauces, but there's something about simplicity that's appealing.
I could taste everything: the zesty marinara, rich mozzarella, spicy onions and banana peppers with the jalapenos adding a touch of heat. Juice still burst from the tomato slices even though they had been in the oven.
The bread was thin and crispy — no dipping sauce needed. I was full after eating half, so it's possible to share. But I'm not wasting food, so I finished the rest while sitting there.
I'm coming back and I'll bring my friends with me. I love the space. It's a wide-open restaurant with lots of sun shining through.
I wanted a little more interaction with the servers when I first walked in the door, but they were all nice. And the longer I stayed, the more they talked with me.
The total cost for my order: $10.90. I guess that's OK. I'd like to pay no more than $10 for lunch. But it is a 10-inch pizza with no limit on toppings. It's fresh, it's filling and, most important, it's good.
Contact Yolanda Putman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6431.