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After dropping hints about opening a third location sometime soon, the popular Toronto pizzeria backed by local celebrity chef Matty Matheson -- Maker Pizza, is officially making its way to the city's east end. Opening tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. for pick-up and delivery, this new spot is going to ensure you're getting your Maker Pizza fix, minus a storefront.
Following the trend of virtual pop-up kitchens arriving in Toronto throughout the pandemic, with delivery and pick-up being the only legal option for restaurateurs, owner Shlomo Buchler says that this definitely influences the decision to expand, minus a dine-in environment. Seeing how their two locations operated and geared up for takeout only during COVID-19 lockdowns in the city made the team curious about how the concept of not having a storefront would go.
"As much as I don't love using the term, it's more of a ghost-style kitchen," says Buchler.
With a location in downtown Toronto and another in North York, making their pizza more easily accessible across the city to those on the east end was the next step.
"We're excited to be in the neighbourhood," says Buchler. "I actually used to live on De Grassi Street, so coming back to the old neighbourhood is really nice."
This marks the third location for Maker Pizza, which intends to continue to grow overtime, with plans for future locations being in the works.
"We've been blessed, we've been very fortunate and we don't take that for granted," says Buchler regarding being able to open another location this year. "It's a tough thing to say because we know that a lot of businesses in our industry have had a lot of difficulties and so the fact that pizza is a comfort food and you know obviously a very popular takeout item that delivers well, worked in our favour."
Keeping the exact address of the kitchen undisclosed for the time being, those in the South Riverdale and Leslieville neighbourhoods can guarantee a pizza at their door. Being a delivery-focused business, Maker Pizza also ensures a 4km delivery range, meaning those in parts of the Danforth and Beaches areas can also hope to make the cut. For the time being, as they get settled, you'll only be able to order pizza from this spot, with additional menu items like their sandwiches and wings being added once they have a better feel for the neighbourhood.
Buchler says that the choice to avoid having a storefront also arises from the understanding that the pandemic is not quite fully behind us yet, so to adapt to the new normal just made sense. In addition, after making adjustments at their other locations to focus on how to best utilize kitchen space for maximum efficiency, the answer was to simply have only a kitchen to focus on. This way, they have a solution to their capacity issues faced at other locations, with dough production really occupying a tremendous amount of time and space.
"Dough production is quite an undertaking," says Buchler. "It's taken on a life of its own."
Seven days a week, eight hours a day -- making the perfect dough is such a big priority for the business that Buchler says Maker Pizza even has its own dough team solely dedicated to its production.
Despite being open for over five years now, the Maker Pizza team is consistently striving to improve their product -- making the best dough they possibly can, test batching and tweaking all the time to make it just a little bit better than the last.
"We're really fine-tuning the product, we've basically worked on doing that every day and we feel that we've made some pretty significant improvements over the past couple of years," says Buchler. "We continue to strive to be better. We're pretty excited to share that with the community."
As they get settled in the neighbourhood and determine what times work best, the current hours for the east side's Maker Pizza are 3:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Be sure to stay tuned to their Instagram to get updates on any changes at this spot, including when they plan on expanding their menu offerings beyond just pizza.