The Pizza Press, a make-your-own pizza restaurant that's been on Franklin Street since 2018, will take a new name on Friday: /sôst/. The change will bring the restaurant from being part of a national chain to becoming a local restaurant, co-owner Andreas Handrinos said.
The name /sôst/ is the phonetic spelling of the word "sauced." Instead of using the traditional spelling of sauced, Handrinos said he knew there were other restaurants with that name, and wanted to be creative. Every dish at /sôst/ is based around a sauce, which is something Handrinos said he and co-owner Stuart Pannill, wanted the name of the restaurant to show.
While the items on Pizza Press' current menu will remain, Handrinos and Pannill are adding on to the build-your-own concept with more items such as pastas, subs, shareable items like wings and additional salad options.
Handrinos said this decision to move away from The Pizza Press franchise is due to struggles brought on by COVID-19 and being across the country from the chain's other locations, not problems with the franchise itself.
“The way the world has been in the past year, it was difficult getting revenue through the door,” Handrinos said. “There were just aspects of business that we felt could be better handled by concentrating on a more localized North Carolina focus.”
Pannill and Handrinos have spent the past few weeks moving away from the 1920’s theme of The Pizza Press brand.
With no brand constraints, /sôst/ has more flexibility in store design and has worked with community arts leaders to incorporate Chapel Hill pride into the restaurant including two windows featuring artwork from local artists.
Handrinos said he and Pannill considered feedback from college students about what new food options /sôst/ should offer.
Even with The Pizza Press being a national chain, Handrinos said their focus as owners has always been on the greater community. /sôst/ will have those same community values, with Handrinos and Pannill looking to support more local organizations in the fall as restrictions are hopefully lifted.
The Pizza Press was one of UNC junior Kayla Dang’s favorite restaurants on Franklin Street and when she heard the news of the rebranding through Facebook, she was sad.
Dang said she loved how unique the restaurant was in comparison to other pizza places on Franklin Street. While she said she is disappointed that they are moving away from the 1920s theme, Dang said she can see how more menu items and the local feel of /sôst/ will help to get more customers through the door.
As a member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Foodies Facebook group, Dang said she knows it’s important to support local businesses in times like these, but she’s unsure how this will play out in the case of /sôst/.
“There are so many local businesses to support on Franklin anyways that I don't know if them saying they’re local now will really help that much,” Dang said.
UNC senior and former employee of The Pizza Press, Joe Friedman, said he is excited about this rebrand and thinks it will be beneficial for the owners. Friedman worked at Pizza Press during the first six months they were open.
He said in these first few months, it was hard for them to stimulate business since they were so far away from other The Pizza Press locations. Even with their food and customer service, which he felt were of the highest quality, The Pizza Press had to work hard to be accepted by the community.
“I think being successful on Franklin Street is sticking out from the rest of the competition and also offering something that you can’t get anywhere else in North Carolina, so I think that this is a really good move,” Friedman said.