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New pizza place set to open in Levee District July 7

A new kind of pizza place is coming to East Peoria. Crust is set to open July 7.

Kelly Couri of Washington is opening the restaurant with his brother, Shane Couri of Peoria.

A new kind of pizza place is coming to East Peoria. Crust is set to open July 7.

Kelly Couri of Washington is opening the restaurant with his brother, Shane Couri of Peoria.

In 2003, the Couris started the original Firehouse Pizza on Pioneer Parkway in Peoria. That restaurant is now closed, but they also have one in Northpoint Shopping Plaza on North Knoxville in Peoria.

Couri’s concept has grown. There are also Firehouse Pizzas in Morton, Normal and Champaign (Station 6).

“They are licensed ones to other people. I licensed them my name and recipes to open their own. There’s a Firehouse Pizza in East Peoria and Washington, but they are not affiliated with us anymore,” Couri said.

Crust will have the same kind of quality of Couri’s Firehouse Pizza with a twist. Crust will offer five styles of crust.

“We may offer a sixth if we decide to do flatbread pizza in the future,” Couri said.
The crusts that will be offered are thin, New York style, deep dish, Detroit style (kind of like Sicilian with a thicker crust) and gluten free.

Couri said he initially got the idea to open a pizza restaurant because “I just figured everybody liked pizza. I went to my favorite pizza place from college and asked him if he would sell me his recipe and he did.”

That pizza place was Del Carmen’s Pizza in Decatur.

To learn more, Couri said he went to San Francisco for a week to take a pizza course with a “kind of world famous pizza maker.” Couri also read all the books he
could about dough and flour.

“I experimented and came up with different styles I liked,” he said.

Couri seems to have a lot going on. He has a master’s degree in exercise science, has a full-time job as a Peoria firefighter and also owns Kaydee Kats —named
after his daughter — in Peoria Heights.

“I just do this on the side as a business,” Couri said of the restaurants.

Crust is located in the Levee District at 322 W. Washington St. Couri said he chose that location for specific reasons.

“It seems like the Levee District is the new up and coming place. There’s a lot of foot traffic. Caterpillar’s near here. We’re going to offer a lunch buffet so it’s fast and affordable,” Couri said. “There’s not too many independent pizza places in East Peoria.”

What will separate Crust from other pizza places, Couri said, is the top-quality ingredients they use.

“We’re going to offer three different main kind of cheeses people can choose from,” he said. “What people can do, they can blend cheeses or switch cheeses….We’ve got a brick cheese from Wisconsin. It’s really good. It’s very flavorful. It’s what Detroit style pizzas put on their pizzas.

Other cheeses will include mozzarella, white cheddar, blue cheese, provolone, feta, ricotta and Parmesan.

Different sauces — three red, barbecue, alfredo, ranch, olive oil and garlic — will be available. All the traditional toppings and pepadew, anchovies, spinach, pickles, taco chips, pineapple and lettuce will also be offered.

“So you can come in and get a different combination of pizza if you take the combination of different crusts, sauces and pizza. You could have a different pizza every day of the week for a month probably,” Couri said.

Bread sticks, cheesy sticks, dessert pizzas and a few bakeable items will be included on the menu with the emphasis on pizza.

“We wanted to concentrate on pizza here. … We wanted to try to make a quality pizza at a good price with many different styles that people will like. Some people like a sweet sauce, some don’t. Some people like a little bit of a spice, which we have that. Some people like a tomatoey sauce. We have that,” Couri said.

Deb Couri, Kelly’s wife, said, “Our slogan is ‘How do you like it?’”

“You can pretty much get it any way you want,” Kelly Couri said.

Crust offers indoor seating and will likely offer outdoor seating as well. Patrons will order at the counter and the food will be brought to the table. Couri said the
atmosphere is fast and casual.

“We’re not going to have waitresses. … I think saving people the tips, I think some people, it will make it more affordable,” Couri said.

Take-and-bake pizzas and advance large order pizza deliveries will be offered.

“We’re not going to start with delivery, but we will do take-and-bakes if people want them,” Couri said.

The hours at Crust are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday and Monday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

For more information, call 699-2787 (CRUS) or visit

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