UPTOWN — A new Pie Hole Pizza Joint is slated to serve its first slice in Uptown — on April Fools' Day.
Owner Douglas Brandt indicated early last week that lease negotiations with Rayan Brothers Enterprises for the new location, at 5001 N. Clark St., were not going smoothly.
But on Friday, Brandt sent DNAinfo.com Chicago this text message: "Signed, sealed, delivered!"
He also announced the milestone on Pie Hole's Facebook page, where he posted pictures of a signed lease and proclaimed: "I'm theirs!"
"We're shooting for April 1," Brandt said in another post. "If we miss, we can always claim 'April Fools!'"
Brandt also owns the Pie Hole Pizza Joint in Lakeview.
The Uptown expansion is a dream come true for the local small business owner, who said when he saw the vacant storefront last year he envisioned "bright neon signs" in his mind that told him it would be a great spot for his second location.
Brandt said Pie Hole, which offers an an eclectic variety of custom pizzas with crazy combinations such as marshmallow and sausage, has always had an "underground, anti-establishment and irreverent vibe."
"The fact that it is not in the most commercial location is actually a plus for us," he said.
The new address is in a residential area, but it sits on bustling North Clark Street at West Argyle Avenue, at "the end of the Andersonville retail strip that is progressively growing a little farther and farther south," Brandt said.
"So, it has a lot of potential in the future."
Brandt initially had trouble finding a funding stream to tap that potential — before $30,000 in loans raised via crowd-funding program LendSquare solved his problem in December. LendSquare asks members of the community for two-year loans that are paid back with interest.
Justin Kesselring, a 28-year-old convention project manager living in Andersonville, saw a Tweet about the funding push in the fall and gave $4,000 along with his partner.
He said he sat down with his partner "went over finances and decided to help." Kesselring was excited to help bring some of his favorite pizza in the city "a little bit closer."
He was also intrigued by the Lendsquare concept, he said.
Kesselring said that if banks are offering high-interest loans and don't actually have a personal connection to a business, "why not engage your customers, who will actually come back and then reinvest in the business?"