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Cedar Falls pizza place, Chad's Pizza, looking to make it big in North Iowa
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Cedar Falls pizza place, Chad's Pizza, looking to make it big in North Iowa

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Chad's Pizza

Alex Funke of Chad's Pizza has begun an expansion project, bringing a ready-to-bake pizza delivery service to North Iowa.

Chad's Pizza in Cedar Falls has been going for a little over six years now but the idea to strike out across the state with frozen pizza deliveries is something that happened more recently and with some spontaneity. 

According to Alex Funke, the "chief pizza officer" at the Cedar Falls store, it started with a friend's wedding just outside of Des Moines.

"He wanted me to get the liquor license to run the bar for him and it’s a little bit of expensive process to do that, so I thought: I’m going to the area, why not try and offset the cost and let people know I can bring some pizzas for them?"

From that trial run, Funke said he expanded things out to the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area. But that wasn't enough of a reach in the state.

"I’ve always been very ambitious and hungry so two markets wasn’t going to be enough to satisfy me especially when there were so many other people in the state who were calling for our pizza," Funke said.

The next decision was to head north to cities and towns such as: Charles City, Mason City and New Hampton. On Monday, Funke made his inaugural trip up.

What to expect

For that first day, Funke said he had eight orders to fulfill. One of which was seven pizzas to a customer in Charles City. 

To reflect the experience at the Cedar Falls store, any of the 55-plus specialty pizzas are available for sale in frozen form. If someone wants the street taco pizza, with shredded steak, onions, mozzarella, cheddar cheese, cilantro and taco sauce, but doesn't live within a 30-mile radius of Cedar Falls, they can still get the frozen offering. 

Though there may have to be some modifications.

Funke did make clear that an option such as "Funk Burger," which features beef, bacon, mozzarella, American cheeses, jalapenos and onion rings on top, has to have onion rings on the side in frozen form. 

"Then we would recommend eating those a little bit sooner than the rest of them," Funke said.

As a way of localizing the experience, Chad's Pizza has a "North Central Iowa Frozen Pizza" page on Facebook where customers can order.

"I think it could be the best market for us because there are a lot of small towns around here and small town folks are really good at supporting local," Funke said.

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Where it started

Well before Funke, who is almost 29, was venturing out into the frozen pizza market, before he even had his own store in Cedar Falls, he was a high schooler working for Chad Clouse at the original Chad's Pizza in Dyersville. 

"Throughout that period he admired what I did and what I built and said: 'I want to do what you’re doing,'" Clouse shared. "He has a lot of great ideas."

At the original Dyersville storefront, the pizza options are more pared down but the menu does include options such as soup and sandwiches. As for frozen pizzas, Clouse sells some out of a display freezer at the restaurant. Originally, he went for a broader reach.

"A number of years ago, almost 10 years ago, I started power baking pizzas, wrapping them and freezing them all over the U.S. but that got expensive," Clouse said.

Clouse thinks that Funke's frozen pizza expansion will succeed and he's proud that he's had such a long-lasting work relationship with him.

"It just comes back to just being good people, trusting each other and knowing our work ethic. You just build a relationship off of that," he said.

Where it's going

Funke's hoping the relationships he's built will carry the frozen pizza venture not just across the entire state but to markets such as Minneapolis and Omaha as well.

"I thought I’d be a little farther along in my career," he said. "I had a little bit more ambitious goals and we’re a little bit behind my target timeline but that’s alright we’re finally starting to pick up momentum."

If or when that happens, Funke said he'll be closer to delivering on a promise he first made when he started up in Cedar Falls: "We deliver everywhere."

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Jared McNett covers local government for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at Jared.McNett@globegazette.com or by phone at 641-421-0527. Follow Jared on Twitter at @TwoHeadedBoy98.

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