Daily Star photo/KATIE ROHMAN Sarah Brittin, owner of Pizza Transit, makes a gyro pizza, which has just been added to its menu. She took over the business from her father, Mike Vogel, seven years ago. Vogel started Pizza Transit 25 years ago at 100 S. 11th St.

Pizza Transit on the move

Published 6:45pm Monday, March 5, 2012

With more than 10 pizza joints between Niles and the state line, it isn’t easy for some businesses to make a go of it with such stiff competition for customers’ attention.

But Pizza Transit boasted its best year ever in 2011, and the first couple months of 2012 are looking even better. In fact, the restaurant marked its best day of business in its 25-year history on Friday.

The boost in business has also made it possible for Pizza Transit, which only offers carry-out and delivery, to move to a dine-in location, 215 E. Main St., in April.

A family tradition

“I think we’ve just always had a consistent product,” owner Sarah Brittin said. “Most of the time, you’re getting a pizza made by the owner.

“I’m really hands-on, and I have a lot of people (employees) who feel the same way,” she said.

Brittin, a Niles native and Buchanan graduate, bought the business seven years ago from her father, Mike Vogel, who established it 25 years ago at the same location, 100 S. 11th St.

Brittin was working as an assistant manager at the Pizza Hut down the street when her father decided to pursue other interests.

“I wanted to make sure the business stayed in the family,” said Brittin, who still uses the same homemade dough and sauce recipes created when Pizza Transit started.

“It’s very hush, hush,” she said of the recipes.

A new era

Daily Star photo/KATIE ROHMAN Pizza Transit will be moving from its home of 25 years at 100 S. 11th St., Niles, to 215 E. Main St., in April. The pizzeria will be able to offer dine-in service for the first time.

After racking up numerous regional business awards over the years for its food, customers service and work environment, Pizza Transit developed a reputation in Michiana for its pizza.

Brittin saw the value of communicating with customers on Facebook and posts daily specials and news about Pizza Transit. She has added new menu items, including the gyro pizza, after gauging customer interest with test-runs and “likes” on Facebook. Brittin also makes a point to post pictures of her creations.

“Niles has really changed, and we have a lot more food-conscious people,” she said. “The Facebook marketing — I credit that to a lot of it.”

Although there are many unique items on its menu, Pizza Transit’s bestseller is its “everything” pizza, “The Ultimate” — nine toppings for the price of four.

“We sell a lot of ‘The Ultimate’ pizza,” Brittin said. “My parents ran commercials in the ‘90s.”

Pizza Transit also offers calzones (homemade dough filled with cheese and pizza toppings with pizza sauce on the side); a variety of breadsticks, including twisted and buffalo cheesy, with dipping sauces; salads; oven-toasted subs; wings; desserts; and new pasta bakes (individual-sized cavatappi pasta covered with homemade sauce, toppings and cheese).

Brittin said the move to downtown allows for more visibility and interaction with local businesses.

The location, formerly home to Frame of Mind, needs few renovations, Brittin said, except a commercial kitchen and handicapped restrooms.

“It’s actually a very nice space,” she said. “I’m trying to leave it as close to the original as possible.”

Brittin said she is not concerned about having two other pizzerias — 3rd Street Pizza and Massimo’s — within a couple blocks of her new location.

“With pizza, you have different things at different places,” she said. “I’ve always liked Main Street. There are great businesses down there.”

Pizza Transit can be reached at 684-6600. Visit it at www.pizzatransit.com or on Facebook. Hours are 3 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday.

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