It has only been three months since the restaurant opened, and already there’s talk of expanding: clearly, Edmonton was hungry for the quality pies that LOVEPIZZA offers.
Owners Braede Harris and Gavin Fedoruk met and fell in love over pizza, as a note on the wall of their restaurant describes. LOVEPIZZA inhabits Canterra Plaza on 109 Street and Jasper Avenue: a fairly banal framework that the duo has personalized with clean, modern lines and a black-and-white palette featuring floor-to-ceiling photographs stretching across one wall.
The pair is sitting at a table in one corner of the open dining area, on a weekday morning while their team is busy prepping for the day in the small kitchen tucked behind the long ordering counter. You need only step inside the place for evidence of their work, the air redolent of garlic and herbs. It’s been pretty much non-stop work to get this place started, they note, acknowledging their (pleasant) surprise at the immediate positive response they’ve received. They’ve been so busy that they haven’t needed to turn on the online ordering app they had designed, and Fedoruk—who is also one of the co-owners of Press’d Sandwich Company—has already started talking about expanding to more locations. But it’s still early days, Harris counterpoints, and they are just trying to find LOVEPIZZA’s place in the local community.
“We really want to build a business here, with LOVEPIZZA, that’s about more than just a place to go and grab a quick pizza,” Fedoruk says. “In all aspects of what we’re doing, the reason we started this—it is our family. We have [Braede] and I running it; we want our crew to get paid well; we want them to enjoy their work here; we want them to interact with customers.”
“And feel like they’re part of our family, too,” Harris adds.
“It’s about more than just serving that line today,” Fedoruk continues. “We just really want to build that holistic, 360 approach to a family run community business.”
Further to this, they’ll be starting up the LOVEPIZZAGIVES program right away, which will donate $1 for every pizza sold during a chosen week to a local charity; the first one is We All Believe in You, which supports the de-stigmatization of mental illness and runs until May 8.
Fedoruk and Harris are unique among the winners of the Best New Restaurant category of Vue’s Golden Fork Awards—in which LOVEPIZZA took first place, and ranked in a handful of others—in that they are the only ones who aren’t chefs themselves. They had been mulling over the idea of a pizza restaurant for a few years, until a confluence of events—finding the right space, connecting with others who were also interested in the concept—resulted in LOVEPIZZA.
While the duo admits that they are fine home cooks, they are far from professional chefs. (“I wouldn’t be able to be a chef,” Fedoruk states plainly.) A culinary manager and cook handle all the food, which is all made in-house—from the dough and sauce to all the toppings. The menu was originally developed by Paul Shufelt, currently of Workshop Eatery (and another Golden Fork winner).
“My knife skills are terrible—like, terrible!” Harris admits. “I have every gadget to try to cut a good piece of cheese off a block and I’m still terrible. But I actually do most of the cooking at home, so I think I’m OK.”
“[She] is very good at the random, non-recipe recipe—just throwing it together, making something,”
Like many of the city’s most celebrated restaurants, working with local suppliers and businesses is a fundamental part of LOVEPIZZA. A small freezer featuring Pinocchio Ice Cream sits right beside the beverage cooler behind the counter, and the duo sources a number of their ingredients from local farmers: their bacon comes from Irving’s Farm Fresh and Gold Forest Grains supplies their whole wheat flour, to name a couple.
“It’s definitely more expensive; it’s kind of artisan products,” Fedoruk says. “But I think it really helps. I think it drives traffic, too; it generates more buzz for our business.”
LOVEPIZZA is still a very young restaurant, but if its initial reception is any indication, it’s here to stay. It was high time for a new pizza place that isn’t a generic fast-food chain, and Harris and Fedoruk’s family minded, community focus is obviously appealing to many.
And they’ve even brought their dog in the restaurant—metaphorically, that is.
“[He] is pretty much another member of our family,” Harris says, after she and Fedoruk both name—unanimously and immediately—The Q pizza as the menu item they’d choose to save above all others.
“His name’s Quincy, and he has quite a personality and he’s little spicy,” Harris continues. “The chipotle barbecue sauce is a little zesty, so we thought that was a pretty good pizza for him to be named after. We had to have him in the restaurant somehow.”
10196 – 109 Street