ST. LOUIS — Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria this week unveiled plans for a third location of their St. Louis-based pizza and pasta chain, this time at Ballpark Village downtown, but don't expect to hear news about location No. 4 anytime soon.
That's because the company, led by Katie and Ted Collier, intends to keep focus on its fast-growing frozen food business, with plans to expand beyond frozen pizzas to a line of frozen pasta products within the next month.
"The strategy has always been to always keep growing, always keep looking for opportunities and ways we can stretch ourselves," Katie Collier said in an interview this week. "But to be careful about it. We’re steady and we don't grow too quickly."
The business began as a restaurant her father, Tom Lee, opened on Clayton Road in 2008 called Katie's Pizza Cafe. Katie Collier worked at the family's restaurant until 2014, when she and Ted decided to split off and open the Rock Hill location and rebrand the store to Katie's Pizza & Pasta Osteria with her father's blessing. Over the past eight years, they've limited their growth to a second location in Town & Country, and the new space opening next year in Ballpark Village. Her father's original Katie's Pizza closed in 2017.
While the goal has always been to expand, adding additional brick-and-mortar locations is a capital-intensive move. “We finance a lot of it ourselves,” Katie said.
That's why the Colliers are plotting additional growth around the frozen foods business they launched during the worst of the pandemic.
Once dining rooms closed for indoor dining in March 2020, Katie Collier and her family brainstormed ways to keep the staff of “more than 100” employed and the two locations open.
Her mother suggested she turn her attention toward the 2,800-square-foot production space in Creve Coeur that Katie began leasing in 2017 to house another venture called Vero Pasto. While Katie said that business, a delivery meal-kit operation, "failed," she was still paying rent on the location.
As a family, they decided to use the space to flash freeze pizzas, made in the same wood-fired ovens in the kitchen at the two restaurant locations, and distribute them to grocery stores locally and to customers individually.
In May 2020, just a two months after they started freezing pizzas for sale, Katie and Ted took their frozen food to a national scale using FedEx to deliver pizzas around the country. The business expanded again last August when it announced a deal to distribute to all H-E-B Grocery Co.’s Central Market locations throughout Texas.
Currently, Katie Collier said the company's pizzas are available for purchase in 160 stores, nationwide in chains like Whole Foods and will soon be in Sprouts stores, as well.
The next step is to expand its frozen products portfolio.
Read the rest of the story on the St. Louis Business Journal website.