Boston-area favorite "The Upper Crust" is bringing its brand of gourmet pizza and fresh ingredients to Wellesley this month, with a new location on Central Street that's already attracting students, families and lunch groups.
The Upper Crust opened its doors just one month ago, but business is already brisk, said Upper Crust Area Manager Shawn Shenefield.
"The owners have been trying to get into Wellesley for quite a while now, and in this business it all comes down to finding the right space," said Shenefield, who said one of the Upper Crust company founders grew up in Needham, while the other two are from nearby Sharon. "They have a lot of roots around here. It just made sense to come to Wellesley."
The Upper Crust, established in 2001, opened its original storefront on Charles Street in Boston. With 17 locations, their franchise now covers much of Eastern Massachusetts, from Newburyport to Hingham and everywhere in between. Wellesley is the first Upper Crust location in Metrowest.
So what makes them different from other pizza shops in town – especially in a town already rife with epicurean delights?
"Upper crust is going to bring more of an upscale product. We're a gourmet-style pizzeria," Shenefield said. "It's a little on the healthier side. The crust is very thin, and a lot of the products are brought in fresh every day. It brings a sense of that upscale, gourmet-style pizza."
The shop itself is decorated in a fashionable yet comfy style, with a sophisticated décor that still offers three televisions for guest entertainment. And Shenefield said the owners plan to add beer and wine service in coming months.
Another thing that sets The Upper Crust apart as a business? Their commitment to supporting local initiatives, from schools to community events and fundraisers.
"One of the bigger things we do is a lot of community outreach. The company as a whole always does a lot of community outreach, and even though we've only been around (Wellesley) a month or so, we've already done a couple events here," said Shenefield, citing a recent elementary school fair and an all-night party at the high school for which Upper Crust donated pizzas. They also participated at a recent seminar day at Wellesley High School, and picked up a few of their first employees in the process.
"We don't just give money to a major charity, we do local stuff," said Shenefield. "And we are going to keep doing stuff locally in Wellesley."
The Upper Crust is also sponsoring one route in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (www.pmc.org), a two-day cycling event which raises money for cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Part of the event starts at Babson College in Wellesley.
"We're here for reasons beyond just operating a restaurant," said Shenefield. "We do a ton of community outreach. We definitely look to Wellesley College and Babson, but more than that, we're looking at the town as a whole."
And Wellesley is just the latest step in an ongoing expansion plan that could take Upper Crust further into Massachusetts – and even to the nation's capital.
"We're definitely still growing. I think eventually we'll probably see something go in Natick, and right now we're actually getting ready to go into the D.C. market," said Shenefield. "We want to grow our market share beyond Boston."
The Wellesley restaurant is among the largest in the chain, with more than 1,000 square feet of dining space in addition to their takeout offerings.
"It's on the bigger side of our stores. We have a big spot here with lots of seating, and we've noticed in Wellesley that a lot of people like to get out and dine in. They're walking the dog down to the store and grabbing a slice," Shenefield said. "We do have takeout, but the dining room is full every night of the week."
The Upper Crust Pizzeria is located at 99 Central St. in Downtown Wellesley, near the entrance to Wellesley College. The shop seats up to 50 guests, and is available for birthday parties as well as private events. The Upper Crust also offers catering.
Hours are Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Delivery is available nightly until half an hour before closing.
Shenefield said The Upper Crust continues to seek opportunities to support community events. To find out more about partnering with the restaurant for a local event, call the Wellesley shop at 781-235-5011.
"If anybody has events in mind, we're definitely interested in looking at future ways to help out local organizations," said Shenefield. "We can't do it all, but the company does a good job of keeping its staff very happy and very motivated, which is great because everything we do locally is better because of that. The energy in the store is better, and we can go and transfer that to the community."
For more information on The Upper Crust, visit www.theuppercrustpizzeria.com.