SOLANA BEACH — When Crust Pizzeria opens early next month in the Solana Beach Towne Centre, the owners are hoping it will fill a void and perhaps provide a little nostalgia.
The high-quality, family-centric restaurant is taking over the space that for years was home to Roundtable Pizza, where scores of local sports teams held their end-of-year banquets.
“I went there as a kid,” said John Principi, a Torrey Pines High School graduate and current football coach who took his players there.
“That’s where I got my soccer trophies at the end of the season,” his wife, Morgan Principi, said. “When it went under a nice local family opened a restaurant in the space but it didn’t pan out. They were wonderful people. It just wasn’t quite the right fit.
“There was a void in our community,” she added. “I’ve got four kids and there’s very few places locally where we can all go.”
The Principis, the husband and wife team of Matt and Kimia Othick and brothers Matt and Brett Weaver are co-owners of the second and third Crust pizza restaurants in San Diego.
The Othicks moved from Las Vegas to Solana Beach to open the first one in La Costa in 2011.
“We used to come here for a few months a year,” Matt Othick said. “Then we started coming more and more and more. We loved the area and wanted to raise our kids here. Opening the pizza restaurant was a great opportunity to do that.”
He, his wife and a former partner took over a space previously occupied by two failed Italian restaurants in a suburban neighborhood near several schools.
“Everyone told us we pretty much had no chance but we really liked the location,” Matt Othick said. “It just seemed right. We really tried to get involved in the community. We met a lot of great people in the area. It took a while to get it going but after about a year it turned the corner.”
After opening a second location in Carmel Valley in 2014, the Othicks and their original partner parted ways, with each keeping one Crust.
Meanwhile, the Principis had befriended the Weavers, who co-own Saddle Bar in Solana Beach, and the Othicks, whose children went to school together and played on some of the same sports teams.
“It just all morphed into this partnership,” Matt Othick said. “We all hit it off and started talking about maybe opening a Crust in Solana Beach. I laughed it off for the first six months.
“When this location opened in January 2016 we still were like, no, no, no,” he added. “But everything kept saying yes, yes, yes.”
The menus at all three restaurants are similar, featuring pizzas, pasta dishes, sandwiches and salads. In addition to a varied wine list and craft beers, the Carmel Valley and Solana Beach locations have full bars offering craft cocktails.
The Solana Beach pizzeria will include a dog-friendly patio, close to 15 TVs and a room for private parties such as end-of-year sports banquets, for up to about 60 people. The area can open up to accommodate around 100.
The partners are also continuing their tradition of community involvement.
“That’s what we’re all about,” John Principi said. “We do a lot of stuff with schools and youth leagues.”
In addition to holding fundraisers, Crust donates time, money and food to area schools and sports teams and the Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce. The restaurant is also a sponsor for the local Boys & Girls Clubs and Drew Brees’ flag football organization.
Additionally, the group donated and served nearly 100 pizzas to people evacuated to the Del Mar Fairgrounds during the Lilac fire in Bonsall last month.
The co-owners describe their restaurants as places where families with or without children can go for high-quality food “and everyone enjoys it.”
“That’s a hard thing to do in the restaurant business,” Matt Othick said. “Not a lot of places have been able to apply that. Sometimes maybe it’s the food. Other times it’s too loud. It’s just amazing how, if you do it the right way, everybody just enjoys themselves.”
“It takes a great team and a lot of community support and we have that,” John Principi added. “We’re all about Solana Beach.”