Wild Pie, the Jacksonville-based 100% plant-based pizza restaurant, has fired up its oven in Hodges Pointe Plaza at southwest Hodges and Beach boulevards.
The soft opening over Thanksgiving weekend has been giving staff time and experience as the restaurant makes final operational updates before the Dec. 1 grand opening.
Wild Pie opened at 13500 Beach Blvd. in the former Brucci’s Pizza space after an extensive renovation. It seats 38 inside and 24 on the front patio.
All of the ingredients are plant-based.
The Wild Pie pizzas come in 11- and 14-inch crusts with an extra charge of $2.50 or $4 for a gluten-free crust.
The dozen varieties of 11-inch pizzas range from $12 to $15 and include the Veg Out, The Meat(less) Lover and the Taco ‘Bout It. There also is a build-your-own pie.
The 14-inch pizzas range from $16 to $19.
The Leafy Greens salads are $11 and $12, with plant-based chicken added for $4.
The Nibbles range from $9 to $12.50 and include Roasted Shishito Peppers, Monkey Bread and Spicy Impossible Meatballs.
Desserts include a cookie, brownie and oat milk soft-serve with a choice of toppings.
Beverages include canned soft drinks, juices and bottled beer.
“The original goal is to unleash the power of plant-based pizza,” said Wild Pie LLC President Bart Ortiz in a previous interview.
The meat substitutes include Happy Little Plants pepperoni and sausage by Hormel Foods; Daring Plant Chicken; Impossible meatballs; and Beyond Sausage.
Wild Pie’s pizza toppings include mushrooms, roasted broccoli, cherry tomatoes, marinated artichokes, caramelized onions and pickled jalapenos as well as dairy-free cheeses.
The pizza dough will be made fresh daily.
“We are making the last revisions and tweaks,” Ortiz said Aug. 24.
“We are 95 or 96% there.”
The menu is designed to appeal to those following plant-based diets and those who are flexitarians, meaning they also eat meat.
“The food first and foremost has to taste great,” Ortiz said.
“If it doesn’t meet my standards, it doesn’t fly.”
The restaurant offers counter service with food delivered to the table. Customers can order in person or at kiosks as well as online or by phone.
Customers can dine in or take out, and to-go orders have a pickup station near the front door.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
The city issued a permit July 5 for tenant build-out for Wild Pie in the space vacated in December 2022 by Brucci’s Pizza West Beaches.
Jacksonville-based Osterer Construction Co. built-out the 2,329-square-foot space at a cost of $550,000 for Wild Pie LLC of Neptune Beach.
M. Todd Osburn Architect LLC of Jacksonville is the architect.
Ortiz declined Aug. 24 to estimate the total investment, other than calling it significant. January estimates of $2 million are outdated.
He said Wild Pie was hiring 50 people to start and bringing in an opening team with 60 years of restaurant experience.
Wild Pie describes the design as:
“Copper accents, white subway tile, and softly lit lighting fixtures above the main seating area work together to create a cozy atmosphere, essential for eating pizza.”
It is Wild Pie’s first lease for a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Sleiman Enterprises is the landlord at Hodges Pointe Plaza.
Kate Clifford, founder of Strategic Sites Clifford Commercial, represented Wild Pie in the site and lease negotiations. A second restaurant is planned in Gainesville near the University of Florida campus.
The restaurant took root with area investor John Eckstein, who took on a plant-based lifestyle more than a decade ago.
Eckstein is a founding member of OSO Capital Management LLC, the parent company of Wild Pie LLC.
Ortiz said OSO Capital Management LLC focuses on investing in new ventures.
For Wild Pie, Ortiz said the group worked with The Culinary Edge research, strategy and operations company in San Francisco to develop the menu, brand and design.
OSO Capital Management, The Culinary Edge and the Wild Pie team together created the concept.
“This was a collaboration with our founder and folks at Culinary Edge and our team and the investment team as well, so everyone has had some input,” Ortiz said.
Culinary Edge developed the recipes, followed by tastings and revisions.
Ortiz said the group wants to “nail this first opening so that is where the majority of our energy” is.
“We also know that it is all about execution,” he said.
“We want to make sure we have it right and we are able to manage that concept and do a great job before we take it on the road.”
For more information about Wild Pie, visit wildpie.com or @wild_pie_pizza on Instagram.