Thursday, March 22, 2018

Doughocracy Is Closing in the Loop

Posted By on Thu, Mar 22, 2018 at 7:27 AM

CHERYL BAEHR
  • CHERYL BAEHR

Doughocracy (6394 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-833-4277), which aimed to do for pizza what Chipotle did for the burrito, will be closing the doors of its first location in the coming days.

Co-owner Mimi Hurwitz says the restaurant will be open through Sunday, though it's not clear how late or how many items will be left by the end. She says she believes there may be good news for the pizzeria's storefront in the coming months.

"I am hopeful and feel very positive that we've got a party that's extremely interested in the space to do their own concept," she says. "I'm very optimistic that this won't become another vacancy in the Loop."

The fast-casual pizzeria first opened its doors in November 2015, occupying the storefront that previously held the women's clothing store Ziezo. The owners put a good deal of money into the space, adding a conveyor-belt-style pizza oven and a sharp new look.

While it was always intended to become part of a chain, the St. Louis location was the first in the U.S. The RFT's Cheryl Baehr praised its fast and creative pizzas, which were assembled before customers in a line and then sent through a blazing hot oven. Pies typically took less than five minutes and still managed to achieve a perfectly charred crust, just like they do it in Naples.

But the Loop has weathered hard times in recent years, with closures including both chains (Chipotle, Noodles & Co.) and indies (Joy Luck Chinese Express, Cicero's, $8 Deli). Just two weeks ago, Snarf's shut the doors of its Loop location after an eight-year run. At this point, all six of those storefronts remain empty. Business owners are holding their breath, waiting for the trolley to being serving passengers two years after major construction ended.

Hurwitz praises the small-business owners in the neighborhood whom she's gotten to know during Doughocracy's run. "When you see past the vacancies, it's a really cool street with good people," she says. "People who come to work every day and try to make things work."

She adds, "It's been unfortunate what's happened the last few years, both with the construction and the negativity around it. Everybody here is trying to make a living, and unfortunately they got caught in the middle of it. Hopefully the trolley will start running very soon."

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

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