He flew F-16s and stealth bombers, but found his true calling at a pizza shop
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REXBURG – Righteous Slice was years in the making for owner Bill Crawford.
Crawford is a former member of the U.S. Air Force who flew F-16 and stealth bombers during the Iraq War in 2003.
The Air Force was a job he loved, so at first the idea of becoming a pizza restaurant owner was the farthest thing from his mind.
“I don’t really know what caused me to want to get out of the Air Force,” Crawford tells EastIdahoNews.com. “I just had this entrepreneurial and creative bug.”
After getting out of the Air Force, he went to Harvard Business School.
“There is a lot of pressure (at Harvard Business School) to do something that will make you a millionaire as fast as possible. (The career paths) many of my classmates took just didn’t seem right for me.”
Frustrated by his lack of direction and hungry for satisfaction, clarity for Crawford finally came in 2010 at a pizza restaurant in France.
“Pizza is a food that fascinates me. When it’s done right, it is amazing. There’s a lot of opportunity for creativity and self-expression, but there is a lot of science and art behind it too.”
But it would be years before Crawford perfected his own pizza recipe. Under the tutelage of 12-time world pizza champion Tony Gemignani at the International School of Pizza along with Roberto Caporuscio, President of the Association of Neapolitan Pizza Makers, Crawford acquired his own sense of style and skill for making pizza. Of the thousands of pizzas he has made over the years, Crawford says he has only been happy with about a dozen of them.
When Crawford and his family moved to Rexburg five years ago, the farmer’s market proved an ideal place to test the market for his pizza concept.
“It did quite well, but it was so overwhelming with our little oven and the long lines. We’d have hundreds of people waiting for pizza and we couldn’t serve them all. I felt bad about that.”
Crawford is hoping to now meet the demand with Righteous Slice, a name that Crawford feels captures what their pizza making process is all about.
“We (did not want to use) the word ‘pizza’ in the name. It had to do with wanting to be a little different,” Crawford says. “One day, I put a picture of something we had done on social media and a friend of mine said ‘Dude, that looks righteous.’ That’s when we decided on Righteous Slice.”
Sara Jackson is the manager of the restaurant. She first tried Crawford’s pizza at the Rexburg Farmer’s Market more than a year ago.
“The first thing I noticed was the crust was so light. It didn’t make me feel gross after eating it and the flavors are so unique. It had the perfect balance of toppings,” Jackson says.
The pizzas made at Righteous Slice are hand made with imported ingredients from Italy. Every pizza is cooked inside a brick oven at 900 degrees and is ready in 90 seconds.
“Our goal is to have people eat the best pizza they’ve had in their lives anywhere in the world. We want this to be a destination location. We’ve gone to great lengths to make sure we’re delivering authenticity and quality in the food, service and atmosphere,” Crawford says.
Righteous Slice will open the first part of September.
The 3,000 square foot building is located at 175 W. 200 S., Suite 100. Their hours of operation will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday with an 11 p.m. closing time Friday and Saturday.