We were thrilled to see Certified Pies‘ Facebook post yesterday afternoon announcing that it will be opening a brick and mortar dine-in location at 9807 West Markham St. This puts it in the same shopping center — along with Fuller & Sons Hardware, Cheesecake on Point! and Andy’s Restaurant — where it currently operates out of Arkitchen, a 5,000 square-foot shared commercial kitchen space offering caterers, bakers and food truck owners an incubator to develop their food businesses.
Certified Pies is Little Rock’s only Black-owned pizzeria. It was opened by Kreg Stewart, his wife Samantha Stewart and chef Harlem Wilson in October of 2020. By the spring of 2021, it was already developing a strong reputation through word-of-mouth as a ghost kitchen concept with great pizza and the must-try Certified Truth wings.
Certified will be moving into the 2,000 square-foot storefront where Art Is In Cakes was located. Kreg Stewart said on a phone call this morning that it worked out perfectly because the goal was to find a location near the community they’ve been serving for a little more than two years.
“I’m definitely happy that we’re in the space that we’re in because we really have built this niche with the people on that side of town and the space that we’ve created already. So it really did work out in our best favor and what we really wanted to do moving forward.”
A brick and mortar was always the goal. When we first interviewed Stewart in the spring of 2021 he said they were maxing out the space in ArKitchen and couldn’t handle any more business than they were doing.
“It’s tough because we want to do more,” he said. “It’s hard when you’re sharing a space with 25 other businesses. … But we want to keep this going so we can have our own space and people can come dine in, and I can actually meet the people that have been buying our food instead of just being in the kitchen all the time. It’s a tough situation to be in right now, but we’re pushing through.”
A few months after interviewing Stewart in the spring of 2021, Certified Pies won $5,000 in The Venture Center’s Pint & Pitch contest, an entrepreneurial contest focused on women, people of color and veterans whose Arkansas-based businesses were negatively affected by the pandemic or make less than $100,000 in annual sales. Certified Pies was also nominated for the 2021 emerging minority business of the year through the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce.
Stewart said the Art Is In Cakes space will need to be renovated and that Certified could be open this fall at the earliest, putting it on track to celebrate its grand opening around the time of its three year anniversary.
“I wouldn’t say it happened overnight,” Stewart said. “It definitely took some time, but I’m proud of us and how fast everything is happening and rolling. We’re really just getting started.”