Kaleb Copenhaver believes that passion is the most important ingredient when it comes to making pizza.
“You can buy the good flour, good products and a good oven, but you can’t buy the passion,” says the 22-year-old chef and entrepreneur. “That’s the most important thing.”
Copenhaver’s passions include pizza and music. He recently rolled his two obsessions into one with his new culinary concept, Reel Pizza Pies, slated to open in Surprise in early April. The restaurant combines quality fare with a cool atmosphere.
The 1,200-square-foot, 15-seat pizza joint will serve slices, whole pies, sandwiches, salads and sides in a fast-casual environment. The New York Style thin-crust and pan-style pizzas will feature organic flour, fresh mozzarella and organic tomatoes from Bianco. Guests can customize their pizza with toppings including vegan mozzarella and plant-based pepperoni. Reel will serve beer and wine and classic Italian desserts like tiramisu.
“The ingredients are as organic as we can get and the highest quality we can get,” Copenhaver says. “I try to use as much local produce and local products as I can use and the freshest products I can use.”
Copenhaver has been working in pizzerias since he was 16 and has flown all over the country trying pies from restaurants in different regions. His favorite is from Una Pizza Napolitana in New York. Head chef Anthony Mangieri is a huge inspiration to the young pizza maker.
“He’s been making pizza for over 20 years now,” he says. “He doesn’t compromise at all when it comes to the pizza.”
While the pizza is an important part of Reel, music also plays a big role. The restaurant will feature a curated playlist of Copenhaver’s favorite tunes, an eclectic mix of new tracks and classic cuts ranging from Frank Ocean to Red Hot Chili Peppers. “Whatever the vibe is for that day,” he says.
The vibes are vital to his business, Copenhaver adds.
“There aren’t enough restaurants that truly care about the environment and the vibes in the place,” he says. “Music is super important to me. I think it’s important to a lot of people just because it invokes a lot of feelings.”
Copenhaver moved to Surprise from Southern California when he was 7 years old and quickly realized that it was a culinary wasteland. He wanted to open a pizzeria because he believes pizza has the power to bring people together.
“When I was growing up there, there were never really any great restaurants or cool places to go that weren’t a franchise or people that truly cared about what they were doing or the community or the customers they served,” he says. “When I finally decided to open a pizzeria, Surprise was the only location I had in mind because it’s my home, it’s where I’m from, it’s important to me and I think it really deserves something great.”
Reel Pizza Pies
13953 W. Waddell Rd., Ste. 103