Uptown loses one pizza place, regains another

Uptown Pizza's manager wants to restore the slice shop's reputation for quality.

Uptown Pizza's manager wants to restore the slice shop's reputation for quality. Lincoln Scully

Folks, we've got two slices of Uptown pizza news for ya.

First: Red's Savoy is down to just one Minneapolis location. Southwest Journal reported last week that the local chain's Hennepin Avenue location—open since 2009—had permanently closed, per a sign on the door. Red's brass didn't get back to the Journal's request for comment and didn't reply to City Pages' either, but the location has been scrubbed from their website.

'Sota it goes.

But one short mile away, there's good news: After last month's promise that "WE WILL BE BACK SOON..." Uptown Pizza quietly reopened January 6. The late-night pizza classic is under the supervision of new manager Adam Riley, who's... not that new at all, actually.

"I started at Uptown Pizza back in 1995," Riley says. The freshly enrolled Minneapolis Community College student had just moved into an apartment at 31st and Pleasant and soon applied to work at Uptown Pizza. "I ... fell in love with the people, pizza, and sense of community the neighborhood had."

Riley's been involved with UP on and off for the last 25 years; even after getting a programming degree and launching his own business, he would return to the shop and pick up shifts between contracts. The place has changed hands a few times over the years, and he's been in touch with every new owner.

He even ran customer coupon mailings for the most recent owner—which he says is when he noticed an unfortunate decline in quality (and, correspondingly, sales).

That was painful to witness, given his emotional attachment to the place. And when it closed this fall? "I went into what can only be described as mourning," he says.

Luckily, that period didn't last long. A few weeks ago Riley got a call from the new owner, a guy named Sammy, who said he got Riley's name from a few old employees. He wanted to know if the Uptown Pizza lifer had any interest in managing the reborn shop "and helping put in place the procedures that had made Uptown Pizza a success for so many years."

Boy, did he. 

Riley says they've been working with old vendors to get the exact same ingredients once used, from cheese to sauce mixtures to custom sausage blends. He's hired a new staff and wants to bring the "family" back to the business. He knows that you know that quality declined in recent memory. He wants to change that. 

"Uptown Pizza is a staple of the south Minneapolis and Uptown area," Riley says. "I am very proud to have been a part of the journey so far, and I’m extremely excited to see where the future takes us.

"Our restaurant is not flashy, in fact many people call it a dive or hole in the wall," he continues. "However, the people that work there take pride in their work, we use the highest quality ingredients and—if I do say so myself—we make the best damn pizza in Minneapolis."

Uptown Pizza
323 W. Lake St., Minneapolis