For weeks now, the scent of pizza has wafted out from behind the papered-up windows at 210 Wilmington St. That spot will soon be The Pizza Times, the slice-slinging cousin of Raleigh Times and Morning Times.
The Pizza Times will focus on grab-and-go pizza slices, targeting the downtown Raleigh lunch and late night crowds. The small space is mainly for counter service, with a cooler to pick up ready-made salads and drinks. A cheese slice will start at $2, with toppings added for 95 cents each. Pizza Times also will sell whole pies, a 12-inch for $12.95 and an 18-nch for $18.95. Drinks are by the bottle and sides include a small tossed salad and a kale Caesar Salad.
This will be the seventh Empire Eats restaurant, the group owned by Greg Hatem that’s responsible for Raleigh Times, Morning Times, Sitti, Gravy and The Pit in Raleigh and Durham.
Hatem said pizza is a logical next venture for one simple reason.
“Everybody loves pizza,” Hatem said. “This is born out of the fact that our chefs wanted to do pizza. They were already doing pizzas for family meals and one thing led to another.”
Pizza Times is currently working out the menu for Empire employees, but hasn’t yet opened to the public. Hatem expects to open Pizza Times in two to four weeks.
He said the shop is inspired by the by-the-slice joints in New York and that cooks in his company have been working on the pizzas for more than six months. Look for a possible barbecue pizza topped by the smoked offerings from The Pit.
Hatem said he saw a greater demand for a by-the-slice shop than for a traditional sit-down pizzeria.
“There are a lot of folks in downtown Raleigh looking for something quick to eat around lunchtime, something to take back to the office, or eat out on the sidewalk,” Hatem said. “We like that flexibility, making pizzas and salads and see it as kind of in line with Raleigh Times, offering fresh local ingredients.”
Construction has finished on the kitchen and shop, but decals and other branding still need to be added.
When it opens, Pizza Times will serve from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week.
It’s the latest pizza offering in downtown Raleigh. Benny Capitale’s opened a pizza-by-the-slice restaurant on 121 Fayetteville St., this summer, specializing in huge slices and 28-inch whole pies.
Pizza La Stella opened a year ago at 219 Fayetteville St. with wood-fired Neopolitan pizzas – including brunch pizza – and craft beer along with other wood-fired options (wings, Brussels sprouts and macaroni and cheese).
Drew Jackson; 919-829-4707; @jdrewjackson