Pizza Jawn owner celebrates his journey from CrossFit trainer to pizza pie-maker

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)Pizza Jawn owner David Lee didn’t start last year expecting to own a pizza restaurant. After all, he was a CrossFit trainer.

“Pizza was always my favorite food, so it was always like a cheat meal in the fitness industry,” he said.

But not just any pizza would do. He sought out places with excellent quality and fresh ingredients.

“And I would ask questions,” he said. “One thing that I love about, at least the Philly pizza industry, is that a lot of people are very open.”

After years of dabbling in pizza, Lee and his wife, Ana, started selling it at pop-up events. They started with one portable oven.

“It was called a Roccbox,” he said. “We hooked it up to propane and we would take the dough, we would load up our cars and we would go to the brewery. I remember our first event, we sold six pizzas in about four-and-a-half hours and we were like, ‘Oh, that was fun.’ ”

Then, COVID-19 hit.

“When everything shut down, obviously my gym closed and my wife’s real estate business was at a standstill. Then, people started reaching out: ‘How much to come pick up a pizza at your house?’ ”

As business began to snowball, they started looking around for a commercial space to work out of. “We had always said we would never have one until our kids are in college. They’re 11 and 10 now, so we ended up jumping the gun a little bit.”

With the popularity of pizza during the pandemic, their restaurant at 4330 Main St. in Manayunk became an excellent business model. Lee makes dough every day, but he only sells pizza on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

“A lot of people don’t understand, one of the reasons we sell out is our dough is anywhere from 48 hours to 72 hours out,” he noted. Then that’s it — when they’re out of pizzas, they’re done.

Advance pizza orders are recommended via email — pizzajawn@gmail.com — which is listed on the website, but now that they have the ability in this bigger space to make more, Lee said they’re saving some dough every day for walk-up sales of pies or individual slices.

For more on Pizza Jawn, listen to the KYW Newsradio original podcast What’s Cooking on the Audacy app.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio