Niles restaurant slices up unique, tasty pizzas
Published 3:06 pm Friday, December 13, 2013
Mention “pizza,” and most people will probably think of tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, topped with pepperoni or sausage, and baked on a crust. Mention pizza to the regulars at Pizza Transit, however, and the response may include descriptions of loaded baked potatoes, jalapeno poppers or turkey and stuffing.
“It’s a nice way to keep things fun for us. I make so many pizzas. Making pepperoni isn’t always that exciting, but if we can have a pulled pork pizza, then I can have something fun to mess with,” said Sarah Brittin, owner of the pizzeria at 215 E. Main St. in Niles, Mich. “I just try to come up with new things.”
Brittin grew up around pizza, working with her father at the restaurant he started 26 years ago. She took over nine years ago when he decided to retire, and since then, she has definitely been making the restaurant her own.
About two years ago, she started cooking up her unusual pizzas of the month. Then, a year and a half ago, she moved the restaurant from 11th St. to its current location, which enabled her to open a dining room in addition to providing carry-out and delivery services.
Still, true to her roots, Brittin keeps a photo of her father hanging in the restaurant’s dining room.
“I lost my dad to cancer, so I feel like it’s our duty to use our pizza to help other people in that situation. So, we’ve got his picture up on the wall, and he hangs out with us in the dining room to make sure we’re doing the right thing,” Brittin said.
Brittin accomplishes that goal in several different ways. One way is by holding a fundraiser during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, linking it to her pizza of the month offerings.
“October is National Pizza Month. That’s always big for us because it’s also Breast Cancer Awareness month. So, we always do our big breast cancer fundraiser, ‘A Slice of Hope,’ for that,” Brittin said. “I always make sure to do a really big, exciting pizza for that, too. … Everyone loves them so much.”
Another way Brittin does the right thing is by hosting “Rock for the Cure” concerts that support community members who are battling cancer.
“We have another concert coming up on February 1st,” Brittin said. “One-hundred percent of that will go to helping a young man, Andy, who is suffering from lymphoma right now. It’s something really fun we do. It’ll be our third one. We did one last month for Lindsay [Cloutier]. Every single time, it’s been a completely packed house.”
“We have four bands, and you just pay at the door. We do wristbands, and for $10, you get all the pizza you can eat, all the pop you can drink, and four bands, and it’s really fun. We’ve raised about $1500 each time we’ve done it,” Brittin said. “It’s a cool thing to be able to do, and it’s fun to get a bunch of bands in here, and everyone has such a good time, too. … You get to try tons of different pizzas.”
That wide variety of pizzas is the product of Brittin’s creativity, and she relies on those around her for ideas and taste-testing as well.
“We all just really love eating pizza a lot, so I end up just kind of tinkering around in the back and feeding it to all of the employees and kind of letting them tell me what’s good. I got this month’s jalapeno popper pizza idea from a friend,” Brittin said.
Brittin also looks at the calendar and develops her ideas around upcoming holidays. That was how the very popular Thanksgiving Pizza came about.
“We’ll probably just do that every November from now on. It was such a big hit,” Brittin said. “I had people the day before Thanksgiving coming in and getting them, and telling me they were going to refrigerate it, and heat it up, and serve it as an appetizer before their Thanksgiving dinner. It’s kind of an honor to have people serve your pizza at their family meals. I thought it was pretty cool.”
Pizza Transit is open seven days a week, and their regular hours can be found on their website at www.pizzatransit.com or by calling (269) 684-6600. They will be open on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day, too.
“We’re open until 10 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, and you can still get a pizza before the ball drops. It’s a good way to ring in the New Year. Or, leave some out for Santa,” Brittin suggested. “I always say, ‘He gets sick of cookies,’ and I encourage people to leave Santa a slice of pizza. It’s gotten me on the good list every year.”