PIE.ZAA offers a unique, late-night food option to downtown Asheville

April 7, 2021

Nearly two years ago, Tyler Kotch and Jack Morrissey, who both came from bigger cities, saw a need for a late-night, high-quality food option in downtown Asheville. 

Last year, they set out to create PIE.ZAA, a late-night restaurant serving up a unique product: massive pizza. 

“Our mission was simple: provide Asheville with a late-night option that compliments the beer and late night scene, as well as provide a product and service that is different from the current status quo. We settled on massive slices and massive pies. It’s fun, it’s internet worthy, and it’s incredibly refreshing to get a quality product with such size.”

Read on for our full interview with PIE.ZAA co-owners Tyler Kotch and Jack Morissey. 

How did you get your idea or concept for the business? How did you decide on a name?

The concept was taken from another pizza business we came across that did large pies. We told ourselves that we could do the massive pies with massive slices and make it incredibly tasteful. We also told ourselves we could curate an atmosphere that people want to sit and have a beer, not just pick up their food and leave. Our name came from us passing ideas back and forth. We landed on PIE. ZAA, as it is a play on the current derivative of Pizza being called Zaa. It is also a homage to “paisono”, that means a fellow countryman in Italian.  It is a place where the name describes what we have to offer. Full PIES and SLICES of ZAA, coupled with a real sense of community.

What makes your business unique in its field?

The uniqueness speaks for itself in our business. The reaction on people’s faces when they see the size says everything you need to know.

How many employees do you have? And what qualities do you look for when hiring?

We have 18 employees on staff and staff qualities are unique for us. We wanted to hire people who can overcome adversity. During this COVID-era, we were given the gift of being able to provide jobs to the hospitality community who had been laid off. We knew that, in the restaurant business, we could not be there 24/7, so finding individuals to overcome adversity by themselves was a huge key to being successful. Also, we want positivity to prevail in our business. Everyone makes the same amount of money that is working at our shop, and everyone is cross trained to do every job. Finding people to hold more responsibility is another huge part in making out business successful. For these added responsibilities, we pay our employees exponentially higher than a normal restaurant staff. We wanted our employees to make a living wage and not have to pick up multiple jobs. All in all, positivity and overcoming adversity, are qualities we look for when hiring staff. With these two qualities, we believe we can have a healthy work environment and the pizzas all leave the shop with that same attitude.

During your first year of business, what was the greatest lesson you learned?

Stay away from the internet chaos! People are ruthless online and you have to form a callus to deal with the nonsense. Maybe it has been the pandemic, but people always have a complaint and there is no talking them down from it, even if it seems so out of control or unreasonable. The best way to deal with it is to address the “shade” accordingly, and to keep our heads down, ultimately plowing through to success. That is all we can hope for. We love the community, and we appreciate the support.

Where do you see your business in the next year? The next five?

Hopefully in the next year, we will simply get past this pandemic and can have customers enjoying our space during normal times. We enjoy getting to know people and seeing their faces. We want to get to know our local people better and build relationships with our community. The next five years are a coin toss, but we would love to see some expansion. Whether that be in town, somewhere close to town, a city close by; we want to make sure as many people as possible can taste our product.

Why did you decide to join the Chamber?

To go along with building relationships with the community, we loved the outreach the chamber enables us. We enjoyed the people at the chamber, and they are a huge asset to building a business in downtown Asheville. It was a no brainer to join.

What is your favorite part about doing business in the Asheville area?

Our favorite part about doing business in Asheville is the support you receive from other businesses and people. Asheville has a great support system, and the “word of mouth” advertising model is still alive in this town. It makes you feel like a community based business vs a large city business that’s simply made to create a dollar for the man.