Pizza Gutt (aka Daniel Gutter) has been making waves in the Philly food scene lately with his mouth watering square pizzas. I recently tried one of his weekly special pies which had a creamy cheese sauce, chipotle roasted cauliflower and carrots, and was topped with fresh lime and cilantro. It was unique, delicious, and loaded with flavor. The crust was also perfectly crispy with bits of cheese baked right into all the edges. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
Pizza Gutt has a long pizza making history, but in order to get his own thing going he started out popping up at different locations throughout the city and now operates out of Win Win (W/N W/N) Coffee Bar at 9th and Spring Garden. W/N W/N is a worker-cooperative cafe and bar, which means that the place is actually owned by the very people who work there every day. Their website gives a more in depth look at their mission which states "Rather than simply maximizing profits, we strive to develop programs that serve our broader needs, beyond just keeping our bills paid. Because we have other needs, other desires, and other visions. Our need to support ecologically responsible practices and to build a sustainable future. Our desire to provide a venue for creative expression and social engagement in our communities. Our vision to create a new economy based on cooperation and mutual aid, rather than exploitation and competitive individualism." This is of course a perfect fit for a pop-up chef looking for a permanent home. The place can be a little confusing at first glance as it looks like your average corner dive bar meets hipster cafe, but you soon realize that there is so much more going on behind the scenes. To get the pizza, you can either reserve a time slot online, which can be found on the @Pizzagutt Instagram account, or you can just take a chance and order when you arrive. The staff is friendly and helpful throughout the entire process and your wait actually becomes enjoyable. Instagram and social media have been the real catalyst in the success of Pizza Gutt and similar concepts.
The most significant thing for me was the overall concept of this business model and how he got to this point. More and more frequently we are seeing chefs doing "pop-ups" and it is worth noting their importance in the food world. This concept is very strategic and gives the entrepreneur an opportunity to creatively express himself and focus on doing what he does best without worrying about a large financial investment and the added stresses and administrative duties that come with starting a business. Many small restaurants, especially those that are family run, will agree that there is nothing enjoyable about having to deal with paying utilities and worrying about every minor detail when what you really want to do is make great food. Pizza Gutt is a mini success story and I’m sure he will soon move on to bigger and better things. We need to find more entrepreneurs and chefs that are passionate and skilled and help them embrace this concept. We need to support these local, independent trailblazers who are willing to take chances in order to pursue their passions. Keep an eye out for others “popping up” throughout the city such as Hello Donuts and Barts Bagels as they introduce us to their products by working with different businesses while they search for a permanent home.