First opened in Fall 2017, Joe Pizza’s UBC outlet is being replaced by another Vancouver-based company Uncle Fatih’s Pizza. With the “coming soon” sign already perched on the store’s front door, Uncle Fatih’s aims to open its ninth location by July 1.
“Right now, we’re doing a lot of paperwork with UBC,” owner Fatih Ilcin said, adding later that Uncle Fatih’s was approved to take over Joe Pizza’s lease in late April.
“Worst case scenario is August 1, but the goal is July 1.”
To avoid any delays that could come from issues related to building permits, the location won’t be changed significantly. But in addition to refitting the store’s interior to the company’s trademark grey and orange colours, Ilcin plans to increase the location’s indoor seating space in anticipation of winter weather.
“Before winter comes, I want to do tiny alterations on the surface counter to push it in and open up more space,” he said. “We’re planning to put 20 to 25, or even 30 seats in the winter time.”
When asked about how Uncle Fatih’s would set itself apart from the location’s predecessor — who lasted less than a year in the location — Ilcin stressed the differences between the two brands. In particular, he noted the popularity of Uncle Fatih’s among students.
“I believe Joe Pizza doesn’t cater to UBC students, so either they didn’t like the way Joe makes the pizza, or they didn’t like the price,” he said. “Our pizza is well known to UBC anyway.
“If I stand in front of the door and ask 10 students passing by, nine of them are going to know us … and all those students on their way home or somewhere, they are going to drop by Uncle Fatih’s anyway and instead of giving them the discomfort of travelling, Uncle Fatih’s here on campus.”
Students seem to agree with Ilcin’s assessment — and while some advocated for other food outlets like Chipotle or Church’s Chicken, the responses to Uncle Fatih’s arrival on campus seem positive thus far.
“[Joe Pizza] was too expensive,” commented Reddit user diabolicloophole. “Definitely high quality, but $9.50 for two small slices is just too expensive for someone on a student budget.”
“I approve. The ride to [Uncle Fatih’s] Macdonald [location] is basically what kept me from living on beef slices though,” commented Reddit user ziarah.
Joe Pizza declined to comment, but spokesperson Tavia Cosper said the company “would like to thank the students and staff at UBC for their support, however.”
UBC Properties Trust declined to comment about the transition between tenants, citing internal policy.