Growing up next door to a Happy Joe’s Pizza in East Moline, Brandon Tice learned a thing or two about Quad-City style pizza.
He learned about the nut-flavored crust, the spicy sauce and the layers of sausage. Along the way, he learned that plenty of area residents are “devoted” to their go-to pizza joint.
“A lot of people grew up on that kind of pizza,” he said.
After being a player in the local pizza scene for 11 years, Tice is ready to introduce his own spin on the staple Quad-City food.
Tice wants to build on tradition. He also wants to try something new.
Enter the Quad-City Pizza Company, which will open at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
A growing family business
This father-son duo are no strangers to the Quad-City pizza scene.
Brandon Tice and his father, Larry, have co-owned Fields of Pizza in East Moline with their business partner, Bob Fields, since June 2006. In 2009, Tice and his father opened their own location of Fields of Pizza location in Moline.
Larry Tice credits his son with the concept of Quad-City Pizza Company, located at the site of the former Hall Of Fame Pizza & Wings on State Street in Bettendorf. It’s just across the street from Sivyer Steel Corporation.
Tice wanted to help his son mostly because he likes “the idea of a family working together.”
“Brandon has a new concept he has been working on and I wanted to help him,” said Tice, a 66-year-old Silvis native who has worked in industries related to food for most of his career. “He’s really leading the way. I came alongside him as his dad.”
In the spring, the Tices, along with business partner Eric Carlson, plan to convert the Moline Fields of Pizza into a Quad-City Pizza Company. They hope to open additional locations in the future. The East Moline location will continue to operate as a Fields of Pizza.
“We’re wanting to do something a little bit bigger and grow,” said Tice, who recently moved to Geneseo with his wife and two daughters. “We’ve been looking forward to opening in Iowa. This is a good step.”
And his father plans to be there each step of the way.
“He’s an entrepreneur,” Larry Tice said. “I’m proud of him.”
More than Quad-City style pizza
When it comes to pizza joints in the Quad-Cities, the field is packed.
There are long-time staples such as Uncle Bill's or Harris or Happy Joe’s and newcomers such as Your Pie and Crust.
Still, Tice said the scene is in need of innovation.
“You could go to five different places and get the same pizza,” he said. "We respect all of the other places, but just want to do our own thing."
He’s so dedicated to being different that Tice, a former chef at Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse, departed from the traditional Quad-City style pizza recipe, which calls for the crust to be rich and nutty-flavored, the sauce to be spicy, the toppings to be under the cheese and the pie to be cut into strips.
Over the years, this style has generated a “ton of copycats,” Tice said.
The underdog pizza genre — it’s no Chicago deep dish — has also gained popularity outside of the metro Quad-Cities. It was featured in The Washington Post story in February 2016, which proclaimed “your next homemade pizza should hail from the Midwest, not New York.”
Still, Tice wanted to stake his claim on a slightly altered piece of the pie.
“The thing with me is I like being different,” he said. “I wanted to have the same core of the style, but I wanted to really change some of the recipes.”
"We have come up with different recipes and want to create a different experience than what you might expect from other places."
He won’t give away all of his secrets, but Quad-City Pizza Company pies will have a triangular cut and sweeter flavor.
The pizzas are also made with fresh ingredients: homemade dough, cheese grinded in-house and locally produced meat and vegetables.
The end product is something of “a distant cousin of Quad-City style pizza,” Brandon Tice said.
“The DNA is there,” he said. "I don’t want to be cornered into that category. So, we’re not saying Quad-City style. It’s just Quad-City pizza.”
Plus, visitors can see the pizzas being prepared via a passenger window behind the cash registers inside the 3,300-square-foot building.
“You can see them stretching the dough and spinning the pizzas, so you know it’s not some frozen dough,” Larry Tice said. “It’s old-fashioned.”
He said adding a different kind of pizza place to the market is "a good thing for variety."
“You have to have the options to choose from. Some people like thin and some people like thick crust,” he said. “I just hope they like our pizza.”