Pie-Face Pizza Co., 239 W. Second St., 622-9222, was a locals’ favorite pizza joint, winning best pizza and best chicken wings in this year’s RN&R readers’ poll. Pie-Face was beloved not just for its food, but also for its exhibitions by local artists, and events, like the weekly rock ’n’ roll bingo every Wednesday. But beginning on Aug. 1, coincidentally right around the time of that Biggest Little Best of Northern Nevada poll, the pizzeria changed names to PFPCo’s Noble Pie Parlor, much to the confusion and consternation of local pizza lovers. We caught up with co-owner Ryan Goldhammer to find out what prompted the change.
I’m sure you’re sick of explaining it, but why the name change?
The name change came about because we had a trademarking issue. Although we did file for our name, we didn’t go through the channels that we probably should have gone through with a lawyer. You can kind of see why having a business lawyer is such an important thing, and the tools that they have at their disposal for searching those trademarking databases [are] a little bit better than you can at home. It just turned out that somebody had filed before us, and it was impending, and we just didn’t see it. And we went ahead and rolled with it, and we found out that the company did already exist in Australia. It’s a meat pie and fruit pie company. They trademarked everything from breakfast foods to pizzas to hot dogs. They covered it all. They moved into Manhattan. Steve Wynn, from Wynn hotels, invested 15 million. I think he’s 53 percent shareholder, if I’m quoting correctly [the Wall Street Journal makes it 43], and they’re in Manhattan now, and they plan on a rapid U.S. expansion. We tried to do everything that we could to keep the name. They did make us an offer for leasing the name from them. But at the end of the day, we just sort of made the decision that it was just too much money. On top of that, we don’t have any control over who they are and what kind of products they put out and what sort of representation they give to themselves, and with the marketing power and national rollout that they intend to do, we actually decided not to want to be associated with a company that is not our own. We thought it was just a good idea at that point in the game to just go ahead and make the switch.
How did you come up with Noble Pie Parlor?
We’ve been toying with ideas of opening a bar—a Prohibition-style speakeasy called The Noble—and that name was based on the idea of “the noble experiment.” And because we’re intending on going down that road sometime in the future, we thought that it would be a good idea to go ahead and begin that sort of branding and marketing and have them work as a cohesive branding—at some point in time when we do go down that avenue. We just felt that it spoke very strongly to the style and the road that we ended up going down. When I first thought of the name Pie-Face Pizza Co., I really had an entirely different restaurant in mind. I was 25, 26, when I thought of the name and started developing the business plan. And I was thinking of that classic, divey rock ’n’ roll black-and-white checkered floor pizza joint, and as we did our build-out and—the quality of the recipes and the people that we were so fortunate to meet who helped us out cultivating those recipes, the handmade sausage and meatballs and all the things we ended up doing, it sort of took on a new life, and it took on a new vibe. The décor became that kind of rustic modern, kind of warm, cherry wood and gold tone. All that stuff kind of happened, and we ended up getting this historic building space [in the El Cortez Hotel] and really embracing it, and having this whole different kind of vibe in there. And at some point in time, and even though Pie-Face Pizza Company was such a great name, and I think it’s very endeared by a lot of people, but I think it didn’t really speak to the quality of food and the vibe of the space that we had at that point.