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Upper Crust Pizzeria, a popular Boston pizza chain, is opening its second L.A. location in Culver City this April, five years after expanding onto the West Coast.
“We’ve been kind of watching downtown Culver City for awhile — It’s really kind of exploding,” franchisee Shawn Shenefield told What Now Los Angeles of the upcoming 3847 Main St. location. “It has a great demographic because for us, it’s a younger crowd and there’s a ton of businesses moving in there.”
Tired of plowing driveways and unearthing snowed-in cars, Shenefield and a number of employees from Boston locations of the pizzeria moved to L.A. in 2016 to man Upper Crust’s first West Coast location at 243 S Beverly Dr. in Beverly Hills. It didn’t take long for the company to realize the difficulties of running a business from across the country, and Shenefield became the company’s L.A. franchisee in 2018. Now, original employees from Boston are still managing the Beverly Hills restaurant’s kitchen and operations, although the company’s original plan to expand to five or six locations didn’t pan out.
Now, with the two location’s delivery radiuses meeting in the middle, Shenefield said that Upper Crust will add “four or five miles to [their] delivery portfolio.” With the acquisition of this second L.A. location, the pizza chain will have two U.S. locations outside its home city of Boston (along with standalone locations in Kuwait and Istanbul), and Shenefield intends to open more, and is seeking out locations in Sherman Oaks, Brentwood, Studio City and West Hollywood.
“There is a lot of pizza in L.A. but I feel there’s not a lot of good pizza in L.A.,” said Shenefield. “We have an amazing product — of course, it doesn’t matter what you own, it’s all about the product.”
If they show up early enough in the day, diners at Upper Crust’s Beverly Hills location can watch employees roll out the dough in their open kitchen for their crispy, thin-crust pies. Nothing is frozen on-site, and only the best and freshest ingredients are used — Shenefield said that tomatoes for their sauce are hand-picked in Central California, and their clean-label shredded mozzarella from the Grande Cheese Company in Wisconsin is the “best cheese you can use in the industry.”
“It was very hard to continue to use some of these products when the pandemic hit, but we kept true to what we believe in and I think it’s paid off,” Shenefield said.
Construction on the new building, a former BurgerIM, is about 75 percent complete, Shenefield said.