HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Chanticlear Pizza has served the Twin Cities Best Pizza for 50 years and counting! We started with a single pizzeria in Fridley, Minnesota in 1964 and currently have 14 locations and we’re growing. The Chanticlear Pizza brand was established by Richard “Dick” Kempe. Dick had the vision to see, long before the days of a pizza shop on every corner, that pizza was the food of the future. Dick believed in one very basic concept: “The Pizza Is King,” so every decision that he made regarding ingredients or processes had to pass a strict test. That test was simple, “Will this choice make our pizza better?” Dick Kempe laid the foundation for quality that is still associated with Chanticlear Pizza 50 years later.
PASSING THE TORCH
However, the story doesn’t end there. Like anything that has been around for 50 years, Chanticlear Pizza has had its ups and downs. By the early 1990’s Dick was burnt out in the pizza business and the number of operating Chanticlear Pizza restaurants was down to just one. This is where I come in. My name is Dale Heille and I started working at Chanticlear Pizza as a sophomore in high school in 1985. The business was a natural fit for me as the busy pace was perfect for my hyper-active personality. I stayed in the pizza business with Chanticlear until 1990 when I was recruited by the largest pizza chain in the world. I went on to manage several stores for this chain but always maintained my relationship with Dick Kempe. He was my mentor after all and I couldn’t help but notice that while Dick always said, “the pizza is king,” this hugely successful chain had anything but quality pizza. It seemed as though they based their decisions on profit alone and how they could make the pizza cheaper and more efficiently. I couldn’t sell pizza that I didn’t believe in any longer and decided to move on. I approached Dick about buying the brand Chanticlear Pizza and we soon struck up a deal. In 1995 I purchased Chanticlear Pizza from Dick Kempe; a deal that included the requirement that I continue his legacy of insisting on quality at every turn.
WHAT QUALITY MEANS TO CHANTICLEAR PIZZA
Talking about quality is a trick practiced by many pizza chains that are really marketing companies more than they are the product. At Chanticlear Pizza quality is not a trick, it is the single focus in every decision we make. 50 years after it all began, we still mix the dough in our stores daily using the best flour available. This is not the norm in these days of frozen dough and pre-made crusts, but making dough from scratch is a standard that we will not waive.
Our sauce is made from vine ripened tomatoes that go from field to pack in less than 12 hours to maximize all of the natural flavors. We rely on the natural sugars produced in a tomato that is ripened on the vine instead of on a truck, so we do not add additional sugars. Although the recipe remains the same, our process for producing our signature sauce has undergone one significant change. We have our manufacturer add our proprietary spices during the packing process to ensure consistency and allow the ingredients ample time to “get to know each other.”
The recipe for our Chanticlear original Italian sausage is our own and has been for 50 years. Our original Italian sausage is still applied un-cooked and hand pinched onto the pizza. We refuse to add fillers to cheapen the product or have the product pre-cooked to save time on application. We insist on this labor intensive method because applying the sausage un-cooked allows the meat to release its natural juices and flavor into the rest of the pizza.
We continue to chop fresh vegetables daily in our stores. Our canned vegetables are chosen because of flavor, not price. We pay more because you can’t beat the flavor of an imported Spanish green olive or our domestically produced canned mushrooms. We insist on Dole pineapple because it is the best but certainly not the cheapest.
Any story told about our quality would not be complete if we didn’t mention that we use only 100% REAL Wisconsin mozzarella. We shred our mozzarella cheese daily in our stores from carefully aged loaves that have never been frozen. There simply is not a comparison between the quality of cheese we use and the cheese the major chains are sprinkling on their pizzas! Even our packaging is chosen carefully. We chose a box manufacturer from Chicago because they use only a small amount of recycled paper to produce our boxes. Many pizza boxes are made using only recycled paper. We do believe in recycling, but not for the product used to bring our amazing pizza to your table. This may cost us a little more but in our minds there is no other way.
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
It turns out that our customers approve of our business model. “The Pizza Is King” at Chanticlear and our pizza kingdom has grown from that single store in 1995 to 14 stores today with more on the way. It usually costs a buck or two more to order Chanticlear but it is plain to see that we earn it. It is our commitment to continue to use the finest ingredients available to keep Chanticlear Pizza out in front in quality and to deliver that famous flavor that our customers crave!
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