Pi Pizzeria in St. Louis once looked like a success story for the ages. Founded by Chris Sommers in 2007, it skyrocketed to fame when Barack Obama, at the time running for his first term as president of the U.S., named it his favorite pizzeria. But on July 7, Sommers closed the brand’s last location down, and now he’s looking for a buyer.

“Despite our issues and challenges, we made it 16-and-a-half years,” Sommers told St. Louis Magazine. “We had a great run.”

Over the years, Sommers added more stores in St. Louis and other states and Washington, D.C. He also owned Pi Pizzeria + Rico!, which combined his pizzas with dishes from his Mexican restaurant, Gringo, in 2020. That concept lasted two years before closing in August 2022.

Related: Mod Pizza’s ‘turnaround plan’ might include filing for bankruptcy

In Pi Pizzeria’s early years, the future looked bright. During a campaign swing through St. Louis in October 2008, Obama ordered five pizzas from the original location. Shortly after fulfilling the order, Sommers got a phone call from Obama himself, as he later told the news media. Obama called to tell him how much he enjoyed the pies, Sommers said at the time. “He was very gracious. I was more impressed by the character of the guy to take the time to call,” according to Sommers.

Later, according to media reports, the field director for Obama’s Missouri campaign, called Sommers, too. The Pi Pizzeria owner said he was told “Obama wouldn’t shut up about my pizza.” Once Obama won the presidency, he invited Sommers to travel to D.C. to cook pizza for the White House staff.

Pi Pizzeria gained considerable momentum from Obama’s endorsement and expanded over time on the strength of numerous awards from publications like the Riverfront TimesFeast Magazine named Sommers its Restaurateur of the Year in 2014, and Trip Advisor named the Washington, D.C. location the city’s top-rated pizzeria in 2018.

But the pandemic put a damper on Sommers’ fortunes, as he recently explained to St. Louis Magazine. “The downtown locations were by far the most profitable, which changed post-[pandemic], when office workers did not return,” Sommers said. “The Pi and Gringo downtown, along with the monster Pi in Washington, D.C., are what kept us going for so long, and then that all ended.”

A Pi Pizzeria store in Miami shut down in 2015 just three months after it opened, and a Cincinnati store, which opened in 2014, was shuttered in 2017, followed by closure of a location in Bethesda, Maryland in 2018.

Sales at the Pi location in St. Louis’ Central West End started dropping last fall. Prior to that, a fire ravaged several other non-pizza restaurants owned by Sommers, which “left us sitting almost alone on an island. All of that took its toll.”

Another key factor in Pi Pizzeria’s downfall: Sommers said he shifted his own focus to software and app development—his previous career before starting the pizza chain. “At the end of the day—and especially today—successful restaurants are run by operators who are there day in and day out,” he told St. Louis Magazine

Now the last St. Louis store is up for sale, including the brand name, recipes, furniture and fixtures. Sommers has said interested buyers can make inquiries by filling out the contact form on Pi Pizzeria’s website.

Featured, Pizza News