UTEP alumnus establishes her own business
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05
Opening a pizza venue was always on top of Melissa Maese’s dream list.
“Back in college, I would always talk to my friends about having my own pizza place,” said Maese, a UTEP graduate in marketing and owner of The Pizza Joint. “Especially one that would provide pizza by the slice, close late hours and be located near the university.”
It wasn’t until January 2011, when Maese stopped working at Marketing Werks as an activation manager for Miller Coors, that she began to seriously consider the possibility of opening a new place in El Paso.
“My business partner, Jeanette Turner, was the one who persuaded and helped me make this idea a reality,” Maese said. “And since I love pizza, I decided to go forth with it and said, why not?”
Having less than a month to prepare, assemble and organize everything into place, Maese and her team were able to have everything finished by the day of the opening.
“We worked very hard,” Maese said. “I wanted to decorate The Pizza Joint in a way that would reflect the friendly and easy going atmosphere where anybody could hangout, have a good time and enjoy a slice of pizza along with friends and family.”
The atmosphere in the restaurant is given by creative decorations, which include murals by Sun City Tattoos, vintage wine barrel tables, a wall chalkboard and a stand full of board games that customers can use.
“I really loved the barrel tables, I first saw them in Colorado, and I decided to implement them along with the board games,” Maese said. “This place is filled with icebreakers, we often see people playing chess and drawing great masterpieces on the chalkboard everyday.”
According to Maese, board games are not the only thing that sets them apart form other pizza venues.
“The recipe and the size of the pizza is another characteristic that makes Pizza Joint unique,” Maese said. “Our pizzas are 20 inches and are cut into six slices, covering a well portion of the plate. Customers have compared our pizza style with the one from New York, which is a great compliment.”
The Pizza Joint does not only offer a great experience, but according to Maese, with only $4, costumers can take advantage of a slice topped with fresh ingredients and mozzarella cheese along with a drink.
Emmanuel Arzate, senior marketing major, said that he loved the pizza, the barrel tables and the price.
“It was really good and very well made,” Arzate said. “I went along with my mom and we were both very pleased with the serving and the low price.”
Being open for more than a year now, Maese said that she is overwhelmed with the great response that The Pizza Joint has received from the El Paso community.
“Everything has been happening so fast and the process has been beautiful,” Maese said. “The community has opened their arms to us and we couldn’t be more happy, we really thank them.”
Maese said, she and her employees have made the effort to build a relationship with their customers. “We have gotten to know our costumers really well that every time someone comes through the doors we greet them by their personal name,” Maese said.
Monica Bustamante, fifth grade teacher at Rivera Elementary, said she has loved the pizza so much that she eats at The Pizza Joint once a week.
“I really like coming here since it opened, the pizza is really good,” Bustamante said. “It is something different and unique in El Paso. I have recommended it to friends and family and none of them have given me a bad review on this place.”
Maese hopes that in the next four years, she can expand The Pizza Joint and make new branches, especially by the East Side.
“We want to grow as a business,” Maese said. “Next stop might be delivery, I’m looking forward to that implementation.”
The venue also hosts an open mic every Wednesday at 8 p.m. According to Maese, open mic brings all kinds of talented people under the same roof.
“I have always enjoyed live entertainment,” Maese said. “We have heard singers, to comedians to the Vagina Monologues, it’s always really fun.”
Maese said The Pizza Joint also supports the community in different ways. One of them is donating cans to the Rescue Mission.
“I will continue helping the community in any way I can, ultimately giving back to El Paso,” Maese said.
Pizza Joint is located on 2900 N. Mesa, Suite F. For more information, call 533-4066 or visit facebook.com/PizzaJoint.
Andrea Acosta may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.