By PAUL SIMS
As John Dowdy took an order and prepared it for cooking last week, he got the customer’s pizza ready in a largely expected way in the beginning.
He flattened the dough, formed its edges and brushed it with the necessary sauces.
Dowdy departed from the anticipated norm when he applied the toppings.
He didn’t stop at a piece of ham here and a mushroom there. The customer got a loaded-down pizza. The scents of the toppings converged in a crescendo calling out to those nearby to ask for one too. And this was before he put it in the oven.
Dowdy is the sole owner of Pi Squared, a recently opened take-and-bake pizza shop in Starkville.
He’s been a contractor in several fields, including security and low-voltage work in cable and telecommunications across the United States.
He says he’s always been a good cook and “I’ve always wanted to have my hand in a restaurant and I figured, ‘What better time than now?’”
Dowdy’s originally from Los Angeles, Calif. and Washington, D.C. He moved to Starkville to pursue a business opportunity in software which wound up not happening.
He says he “fell in love with the area. ... Starkville has a hometown feel with the busyness of the college.” He opened the business in mid-July.
What’s the origin of what he calls the business?
“I didn’t want a typical pizza parlor name,” he said, adding he wanted to play off the “pizza pie” theme and “since we’re in a college town, I thought the Pi symbol fit,” he said.
The name is a play on words – Pi is an ongoing number unless you round it off, Dowdy clarified for the math crowd.
In describing the business, Dowdy said: “We offer the options that no one else has around here – a handmade, fresh gourmet pizza” served either in the restaurant or cooked in the convenience of home “so you always get it hot and fresh.” Those who choose to take their pizzas home to cook are provided with heating instructions.
He says the goal was: “You get what you want.” He says customers can get each slice made differently, or vary the toppings by a quarter, third or half.
In describing the setup, he said: “My idea was an open environment. You can see what we’re doing here. You’re getting what you want made right in front of you.”
He receives most of his toppings from within Mississippi, thereby joining a movement to use local food sources.
With the exception of pepperoni – which comes from Sysco – staff at Brian Michael’s Meat Market & Deli prepare Pi Squared’s meats by hand, Dowdy said. The cheese is supplied through Sysco as well.
The vegetables are grown in Mississippi from various vendors
“Everything’s fresh, nothing’s frozen. Everything is hand-cut, handmade,” he said. The cheese is hand-grated, the dough is fresh from flour, the sauce is handmade and the spices are pre-mixed by hand, he added.
Dowdy has started off with the traditional pizza toppings – pepperoni, ham and sausage for meats. Other toppings include pineapple, artichoke hearts, black olives, bell pepper, red onions and other peppers, including jalapeño.
The house cheese is a blend of pepper jack, monterrey and mozzarella.
“You get a completely different taste from the cheeses,” he said.
He recently completed a survey and will be adding some new items to the menu.
These include: feta cheese, chicken, meatballs, a garlic dipping sauce, cheese sticks, tomatoes, spinach and desserts. Also, “we’re thinking of getting a soy cheese,” he said.
He was to start the process of applying for a beer license last week.
Delivery is offered at a $2 extra charge.
The hours are 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Monday through Sunday. The address is 444-B Highway 12 West next door to Christy’s.
For information, search for Pi Squared Pizza Starkville on Facebook or call 324-6366.