Community engagement is the ethos of Dewey's Pizza
What began in 1998 as a single pizza store in the Oakley Square neighborhood of Cincinnati has blossomed into 16 stores spanning two states. Dewey’s Pizza in the Heights opened on Lee Road in 2005, joining the growing number of restaurants on the street.
Known for its youthful feel, family-friendly atmosphere and quality pizza, the restaurant took over the location formerly inhabited by Chuck’s Diner.
Dave Igel, managing partner of the pizza chain, said that local ties factored into the decision to open on Lee.
”Our owner, Andrew Dewitt, had some friends up here. He was familiar with Northern Ohio, and it’s an area we wanted to be in, so we decided to move to Cleveland Heights,”said Igel.
Readers of the Heights Observer recently voted Dewey’s as Best Pizza in the Heights, an honor Igel relishes.
“It’s a nice pat on the back for the staff that everything we do, and everything we strive to do well, is greatly appreciated by the people who have a chance to enjoy it. It’s a great honor,” said Igel.
“One of the best things that I take from [the award] is that it’s voted on just by the people of the community that we operate in,” he said.
Though Dewey’s has been around for just seven years, it feels like a quintessential Cleveland Heights gathering place and is crowded most nights of the week. It has become popular with young families, and it’s easy to run into a familiar face there. Igel says that is no accident.
“One of our strong points is the fact that we’re involved in multiple communities through our restaurants. One of our missions is always to be part of the community that we’re in and to integrate ourselves, because that’s the very basis of what we do as a community restaurant,” said Igel. “One of our strongest forms of local advertising is our involvement with charities and business organizations. It’s something that we take great pride in and something that’s a definite focus of what we do.”
In fact, Igel credits the community engagement ethos of Dewey’s Pizza, in large part, to the overall success of the company.
“Part of the success is knowing that this is the kind of atmosphere that we want to create; this is the way we want to do business,” said Igel. “I’m sure we would probably make more money if we opened in the middle of Beachwood Mall, but you gotta make your money in a way you’re happy with.”
Igel credits Dewey’s employees with much of the restaurant’s success.
“The most important people are those who make the food and wait on the tables. They represent our company and our culture to everyone who has a chance to come in and try us,” said Igel.
Igel’s mantra is that Dewey’s is more than a pizzeria. It is a responsible corporate citizen that cares deeply about the communities in which it operates.
“Just recently we gave the store a little facelift—new awnings, signage and planters. For us it’s a good thing to make our restaurant look great, but it also contributes to the overall look and aesthetic of the community. We hope to continue to work within the community to not only build our business, but also to build our relationships and be here for as long as we possibly can,” said Igel.
Dewey’s goal is simple: keep serving great food.
“In seven years I’ve watched kids grow up here in front of my eyes,” said Igel, “and I always say I look forward to when the kid I saw come in when he was three-years-old comes in with his own three-year-old. That’s our goal in the long term—continued success, growth and expansion, especially in the Cleveland area.”
Richard Stewart is the owner of Digizoom Media and a FutureHeights board member.