Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Heat Pizza to be served in Tuscaloosa


In two minutes and 55 seconds, a personalized artisan pizza, prepared with fresh ingredients, is ready to eat at Heat Pizza Bar in downtown Tuscaloosa.

“The whole idea is to serve artisan pizza and salad with the freshest ingredients possible,” said Will Fleming, one of the founders of the soon-to-open Heat Pizza Bar. “We want anyone and everyone who wants to get something to eat to come to Heat and eat and have a good time and not break the bank.”

The journey for Heat Pizza Bar began a little over three years ago when one of the founders of popular pizza chain California Pizza Kitchen was mentoring Fleming in the ways of the restaurant business.

“He showed me politely just how silly and not prepared I was,” Fleming said. “He put my mind to work on pizza, and we closely followed the fast casual trend over the past few years. It felt like a good way to keep prices down and have fresh ingredients.”

The founders pitched the idea of a fast casual restaurant to their mentor and then moved forward with their plans, seeking to provide fast, customized service in combination with fresh food and ingredients.

“The definition of fast casual is without servers, but at the same time, we wanted to morph it a little bit,” Fleming said. “I call us fast casual because I don’t know any other way to define it. We can morph from a standard fast casual like Taco Mama, where you order, pay and sit down, but we can also do a walk-up, and you can let them know you would like to be seated, and it will be a much more full service.”

Fleming said while the process of opening a restaurant isn’t always easy, the restaurant’s location in the old Intermodal Facility in downtown Tuscaloosa has been an ideal choice for the pizza entrepreneurs. 

“When you’re opening a restaurant, there is a lot of red tape you have to get through,” Fleming said. “It’s a very long process, and there’s nothing easy about it. But all that being said, the city of Tuscaloosa has been absolutely fabulous to work with and the downtown district has been fantastic.”

The addition of Heat Pizza Bar to Tuscaloosa’s restaurant scene comes in the wake of the opening of a string of other pizza establishments such as Pieology, Post Office Pies, and Pyros. But despite the array of options, many Tuscaloosa residents are excited to try out any and all pies that come their way.

Shelby Burbach, a senior majoring in theatre who works at Cravings, a specialty grocery store in downtown Tuscaloosa, said she would like to try out the new downtown pizza spot.

“I’d probably go just because you have to try the new thing that comes up, but there are like eight pizza restaurants already,” Burbach said. “Like when it was just Mellow Mushroom, and like Hungry Howies, and now Pieology, but I still have to try everything that comes up.”

Another downtown employee, Rhonda Tew, who works at Twice as Nice consignment store, said that she is looking forward to the new options.

“You can’t have too many restaurants downtown for me,” Tew said. “That gives us all a wide variety to choose from. There’s always different kinds of pizza, so the market is always ready for a new kind.”

Regardless of the increasing number of pizza restaurants in town, Fleming said Heat will stand out in providing an interesting experience, but it also doesn’t have to be the only establishment that succeeds.

“At the end of the day our belief is that the market is stable enough and strong enough, and everyone will be able to be successful,” Fleming said. “It’s a very strong market, and the student population plays heavily into that.”

As Heat joins the ranks of pizza restaurants all over town and competition increases, Burbach said there is still one thing that everyone can agree on.

“Who doesn’t like pizza?” he said. “Everyone likes pizza.”

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