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In these lazy days of instant gratification, when literally any food can be summoned from the comfort of one’s davenport, Corner Spot pizza is an aberration. In stark contrast to the “30 minutes or less” pledge of mega-chains, I had to wait nearly two weeks for my pie. Even then, the handoff took place not on my own front stoop, but in the deserted parking lot of a church, like some shadowy black-market exchange. And I’m one of the lucky ones.
“It’s interesting because it’s just pizza, but people do have to take a few proactive steps to have it available to them – and even then it doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be able to get it,” says Jordan Lakin.
First, one needs to learn of the venture’s existence, typically by scrolling through the Gram and stumbling upon that sexy pizza porn. When the urge to bite strikes, as it doubtless will after spying those razor-sharp edges, crispy corners and glistening ‘roni cups, you’ll need to follow Corner Spot’s account, send a DM and hope to be added to the weekly mailing list. Orders are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, paid for via Venmo, and arranged for weekend pick-up.
As diners, we’ve watched our favorite restaurants pivot away from full-service dining to take-out-friendly operations in an attempt to stay relevant and alive. But Corner Spot had the “luxury” of coming of age in the midst of the pandemic, permitting them to shape the business accordingly.
“Because of the timing of when we started this, it allowed us to consider the reality that we’re in now as opposed to having to pivot,” Lakin says. “As we were exploring different ideas and settling into this concept that I had been developing, we tried to design it for being not just take-away but giving an oven-fresh experience at home.”
What sets Corner Spot apart from most of its colleagues – in addition to its style and substance – is the heat-and-eat process. Customers receive fully-baked pizzas, but not hot pizzas. Included with the menu are detailed heating instructions that are intended to produce a very intentional outcome.
“One of the exceptional characteristics of this pizza is the crispy corners and crispy edges,” notes Lakin. “Our desire is that people would experience the pizza as we were experiencing it.”
After a few minutes in an extremely hot oven, preferably atop a baking stone, the pizzas indeed acquire sharp edges, crispy corners and bottoms so crusty that a knife and fork become practical accessories. At prices that hover in the $18 to $22 range, this is not inexpensive pizza. But each one is 8 by 10 inches in scale, more than an inch thick and stacked with high-quality ingredients like Wisconsin brick cheese, Ohio City Provisions meats and a naturally fermented sourdough crust. Lakin describes the pie as a hybrid of styles from Detroit, Cleveland and Naples.
Customers can build their own by selecting between red or white sauces and toppings like sauteed cremini mushrooms, pickled peppers, spicy Italian sausage and thin-sliced pepperoni that crowns in the oven like crocuses at dusk. Predesigned pies include a Margherita ($18) with fresh mozzarella, the Demeatrio ($22) loaded with sausage, bacon and piles of pepperoni, and the Spuddy Rich ($20) starring thin-sliced potatoes, sweet onions and rosemary cream. Most pies come with the red sauce on top à la Detroit style.
Lakin and his “lifelong friend” Eric Shafran launched Corner Spot this past summer when they sent an email to a small group of friends advertising their product. As the distribution list – and resulting orders – expanded, the cottage business relocated operations to the commercial kitchen at Pilgrim Congregational Church (2592 W. 14th St.) in Tremont, which also is the point of pick-up.
Lakin admits that in the beginning, the exclusivity factor might have provided a subtle boost, but it’s developed into a matter of practicality.
“We started out with a pretty thin window and as demand has grown we tried to widen the availability and now we’re trying to find some sweet spot to keep things manageable for us but also available enough to grow organically,” he explains.
When asked the inevitable question about his and Shafran’s future plans, Lakin answers like a true product of his times.
“We’re in a good place,” he says. “We’re not in any rush to jump into anything that would create a lot of overhead for us, especially while still so close to the pandemic. We’re hoping to be able to grow in the space we’re in at least for the foreseeable future and then we’ll see how things evolve in 2021.”
You can find Corner Spot on Instagram at @cornerspotcle.