CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Pies & Pints President Rob Lindeman wants to make sure every pizza sold in his restaurants, whether it's in Ohio, West Virginia or Timbuktu, tastes just like it came from Charleston or Fayetteville.
He wants the restaurants to have the same look and feel as Pies & Pints' original locations, too. It's all a part of "brand connection."
"Some companies, as they grow, lose sight of . . . what brought them to the dance," he said.
Lindeman, who also is majority owner and managing member of the company, does not want that to happen to Pies & Pints. He said when the gourmet pizza chain opens its new location in Morgantown next year, customers will receive the same food, beer and quality service they've come to expect.
Lindeman also is worried about the intangible aspects of his company: the culture, the charm.
So the company's brand-new Worthington, Ohio, store, along with the upcoming Morgantown location and all future Pies & Pints restaurants, will feature recreations of the "White Elephant Saloon" mural found at its Charleston location.
Lindeman said the recreations of the mural are a deliberate move to tie all the company's locations together.
"It's one of our differentiators, that's part of the brand," he said. "It's why people spend so much more money on Apple than they do a PC product."
He said the company also tries to hire from within, promoting workers to management positions as the business expands.
"You don't have to teach the culture to them if they're already living it," he said.
Until earlier this year, Pies & Pints was on the verge of losing its most important branding element: that simple, catchy name.
There is a restaurant named "Pies & Pints" in Seattle, completely unaffiliated with the West Virginia company, and the owners of the West Coast business owned the trademark to the name.
Lindeman said his company was allowed to use the Pies & Pints name in its Mountain State stores because the businesses do not operate in the same market and do not advertise in the same areas.
But as Lindeman and his partners prepared to open new stores in West Virginia and other states, they wanted to prevent potential trademark problems.
"As we wanted to grow and develop this brand, it wasn't realistic to continue down this path," Lindeman said.
Earlier this year, West Virginia's Pies & Pints approached their West Coast namesake and asked to buy the name. Negotiations did not go well at first. The Seattle restaurant wanted much more money for the name than Lindeman wanted to pay.