August 1, 2018 |

Conversation: Robert Wagner, Need Pizza, IA

By Denise Greer

Robert Wagner, Need Pizza, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Robert Wagner, Need Pizza, Cedar Rapids, Iowa


Need Pizza, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Need Pizza is a family friendly, thin-crust pizzeria akin to New Haven Style. We feature large portion sizes, red, white (sauceless), plain (cheeseless) and BBQ sauced pizzas, with a build-your-own format. We are also a craft beer bar with a focus on locally made beers. There is definitely an education factor with the customers that are interested in different styles of pizza. We mainly have to describe how we are different from New York style, since it is the closest of all other styles to what we are doing. We like to say that our pizza is greatly influenced by the New Haven style, but through experience and educating ourselves we have put our own twist on the product. It is not a direct carbon copy of any place, not that we know of anyway. Our emphasis is on the crust. Then we look to have perfect balance with the rest of the ingredients of the pizza, so you can taste the characteristics of the sauce(s), cheese(s) and toppings that you choose.

We are currently building out a new kitchen that will allow us to do full-time delivery. We currently do takeout and it is about 15 percent of our sales, but during our peak times we don’t have the ability to accommodate larger orders or catering style orders because of our oven capacity. Our expansion includes a larger oven and cooler space that will allow us to expand our dough proofing area and fulfill large takeout and delivery orders. Making sure that we took great care of our dine-in guests was our main focus. Now that we are almost three years old and have hopefully established ourselves as a great pizza and beer venue, we look to add attributes to Need that will fulfill the requests of our patrons and the businesses that surround us.

Our craft beer program is extensive but manageable. We do not have the most tap handles in the area, but we do have one of the most exclusive lineups in our area. We manage 30 draft lines and carry canned craft beers. About half to 60 percent of what we have on draft is local to Iowa. We learned over the first year to year and a half that the majority of people want to try a local beer and support a local brewery. This is even true for the guests that are here from out of town, whether it be traveling for business or tourism. We also try to find new ways to acquire beers that aren’t readily available. We achieve this by being a reliable account. We follow (breweries’) social media (and) support their causes. We just try to find ways to go the extra mile. If we do that, maybe we get that one keg that comes into our distribution area. We have done collaborations with breweries as well. Annually we do one that is sold at our anniversary party and is fully donated to a local cancer research foundation called the I Know Jack Foundation. The other, most recent, was a collaboration where we helped brew the beer and the brewery has the name of the restaurant “Need” printed on their logo on a pizza box!