New Weirdoughs Pizza Continuing Family Legacy On College Ave.
It didn’t take long for a pizza joint to return to the corner of College Ave. and South Pugh Street.
Weirdoughs Custom Pizzeria, a new create-your-own pizza shop, launched with a soft opening at 204 E. College Ave. this weekend. The restaurant debuted just a few months after its predecessor, Brothers Pizza, closed its doors in May after decades in business.
Opening in the footsteps of Brothers certainly isn’t a coincidence. Weirdoughs’ Omer Dogru grew up in the shop while his parents owned and operated Brothers for more than 40 years.
The coronavirus pandemic played an enormous part in Brothers’ closure, according to Dogru. He said students’ unexpected leave didn’t give the restaurant enough traffic to sustain its business.
“Brothers was struggling and adding the pandemic on top of it, mom and dad were forced to close the business,” Dogru said.
Once Brothers shut its doors, Dogru knew he needed to keep his family’s pizza-filled legacy alive in State College. Alongside business partner, founder, and owner Joe Boss, the owner of Boss Brands, he helped to start the first Weirdoughs location over the summer and is excited to build upon his parents’ hard work.
“This location, for me, is sentimental,” Dogru said. “I’ve worked a lot of late nights here, lots of football games. I’m excited. It’s really cool, and we also need a real fresh look.”
Boss had been developing the concept for a custom pizza restaurant in town since 2008. After meeting Dogru while searching for the right location, he thought partnering with him was “the right thing to do.”
Dogru grew up in Boalsburg, attended State High, and eventually graduated from Penn State. He said being raised in Happy Valley was one of the main reasons he decided to launch his restaurant in State College.
“Penn State is really special to me and my family, so we wanted the first one here,” Dogru said.
Now, alongside Boss and Weirdoughs, Dogru hopes to change State College’s pizza scene for the better with a fresh perspective.
“Our pizza is 12 inches [wide]. Most of our competitors are much less than that,” Dogru said. “Our dough is made fresh every day, our ingredients are made fresh every day. We’re late-night every day.”
He added Weirdoughs sets itself apart from the competition a bit by its late-night schedule. The shop opens every day at 11 a.m. and continues operating until 2:30 a.m.
Weirdoughs’ menu currently features nine signature pies, including everything from classics like BBQ chicken and Margherita to clever takes such as Taco Tuesday or Meatradamus (read: Meat Lover’s cranked up to 11).
The restaurant also features a custom menu with nearly every topping under the sun, ranging from pepperoni and sausage to buttermilk ranch and brown sugar drizzle.
Dogru added he and Boss worked all summer long to plot out Weirdoughs’ pizza menu.
“This summer, we tried so much pizza that I probably need, like, two gym memberships at this point,” Dogru said laughing.
Additionally, Weirdoughs boasts a wide variety of signature and custom salads, including a rather inventive “pizza crust salad” if you can’t make up your mind between the menu’s two categories.
Dogru feels Weirdoughs’ pizza-making and ordering processes won’t be hampered by restrictions put into place amid the coronavirus pandemic. Besides ordering on a digital touchscreen, every meal is made behind a thick wall of plexiglass.
“The good thing with us is we’re pretty much COVID-proof,” Dogru said. “Think about it: We’re not interacting with anybody, our employees are socially distanced. [The ordering kiosks] are purposefully 6 feet apart to keep people safe. We have very limited interaction [with customers].”
Despite local health inspectors feeling safe and confident with the precautions Weirdoughs has taken, Dogru said the pandemic made launching the restaurant particularly tough.
Due to the high production of medical equipment and ventilators, he said it took weeks just to order metal to be used for shelves, kitchen appliances, safety precautions, and decor. Dogru added shortages are why the restaurant’s outdoor sign and facade aren’t completed yet.
“It was challenging to open a business during a pandemic, particularly with finances and getting materials in on time,” Dogru said. “However, we overcame each hurdle while going through one of the toughest times our nation has faced.”
Weirdoughs plans to officially host its grand opening sometime in the next few weeks, likely with a set of deals and specials for customers, according to Dogru. The restaurant is currently hiring both in-store and on Indeed.
Although Weirdoughs’ website is currently under construction, you can check out its Instagram page for more information as it gets set to officially open sometime this fall.
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