Local Spotlight: Pizza Casbah

by Timothy Pate

Famous for slices of pizza too large to fit on a dinner plate, Pizza Casbah has established itself as a Fort Collins favorite. The small restaurant features classic video games, a variety of beers, tasty wings and breadsticks, desserts, and of course, New York-style pizza with quite the reputation.

The Casbah was recently featured on the Food Network’s program, Outrageous Food – not surprisingly for its notorious 30-inch pizza. The segment depicts how the pizza is made – from rolling the dough to pulling the monstrosity from the oven – but the show cannot possible demonstrate why community members are drawn to the little place on Laurel.

In a college town like Fort Collins, a place like Pizza Casbah is obviously very appealing. With a number of beers from local breweries such as Odell and New Belgium that go great with a cheesy slice of pizza, all offered at a price to fit a college student’s budget, one can always expect to see the restaurant crowded with students.

But the appeal of the Casbah goes beyond the food and drink selections. The restaurant has successfully created an atmosphere that patrons enjoy while they wait for their slices. Along with the video games, the people at Casbah capitalized on today’s photo-sharing culture with a collection of photos depicting customers enjoying the Pizza Casbah experience on their west wall.

With college students being the foundation of Casbah’s business, the company gladly gives back to the Fort Collins community and Colorado State University as well.

“We are very involved in the community,” said Peter Harvey, general manager of Pizza Casbah. “We donate to almost everything CSU-related. We also donate to elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and local causes.”

Harvey and the employees also understand that competing for students’ loyalty is difficult in a place so populated with quality restaurants. The company has taken advantage of its convenient location (literally right across from campus on West Laurel Street) with weekly specials that attract students tired after a long day of studying.

Of course, being featured on a national television show doesn’t hurt business either.

Food Network found Pizza Casbah when the restaurant consistently appeared as a top result after searching for food challenges in the Colorado region. It turns out trying to devour a two-and-a-half food pizza draws some attention – who knew?

In the segment, the host, Tom Pizzica, explores the process of creating the monster pizza. Casbah’s own Pete Harvey walks Pizzica through the creation.

“Seeing myself on national television was sort of a dream come true,” said Harvey. “[The crew was] very nice…and they made us all feel very comfortable on camera so that it was a stress-free experience.”

And the result of appearing on such a popular network was easily visible.

“At one point, a group of girls from Texas came by because they saw the show while they were road-tripping,” said Harvey. “It was hands down the busiest month we have ever had.”

Business in a college town requires a different kind of mentality and ingenuity, and Pizza Casbah has definitely tapped into the student mentality and turned it into a successful business model. Swing on by the restaurant and see if you can finish a pie – and remember: they’re open extra late on the weekends.

You can watch the Food Network piece on Pizza Casbah here. Let us know what you think!

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