Brenz Pizza — a chain already established at other large universities — has now come to the Ohio State University.
Located at 1151 Lennox Town Lane, Brenz Pizza has been open for just three months and already has supplied pizza for multiple team dinners of the OSU football team.
When owner Mark Mitchell was a student at OSU, he didn’t intend on owning his own pizza business one day.
He worked at Brenen’s Cafe for five years while pursuing a degree in history. After graduating in 2003, he went to seminary in Chicago with the intention of becoming a pastor. When he graduated in 2009, it was the height of the financial crisis and pastoral jobs were sparse. He decided to give his former boss at Brenen’s, Scott Morse, a call to ask if he had any potential job ideas.
Morse asked Mitchell if he would go to Durham, North Carolina, to get a pizza place established near Duke’s campus.
“I was like, ‘I don’t know anything about pizza,’ and he said, ‘Well, I don’t know much more than you do, but we’re going to learn,'” Mitchell said.
There are now four locations of Brenz Pizza, all near college campuses.
Mitchell said that in the past six years the company has been perfecting the pizza recipe. He thinks that the use of local, fresh ingredients is what sets it apart.
“A lot of pizza places advertise fresh toppings, but in reality what they do is they make them in one place and ship them out to all of their locations. What we do is basically make everything from scratch,” Mitchell said.
At each of the locations, employees make all of the sauces and dressings on site and get toppings from a local supplier.
The menu features specialty pizzas, sandwiches, salads and desserts. Mitchell said many of the sandwiches and salads are inspired by those offered at Brenen’s.
The location at Lennox Town Center was chosen strategically so that they can attract students as well as families, and the owner wanted to avoid having to close in the summer like some restaurants on North High Street.
“I think it’s an area where a lot of people come to shop, and we want to make it an area where people come to eat, too,” Mitchell said of Lennox.
Brenz offers dine in, carryout, delivery and catering options. It accepts BuckID cash, and only delivers to addresses west of High Street.
Justine Boggs, a third-year graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in health-care administration, met Mitchell back in his Brenen’s days. She organizes Team Buckeye, OSU’s part of Pelotonia, a fundraising cycling event for cancer research. Pelotonia has worked with Brenen’s Cafe in the past and has also done some fundraisers at Brenz.
Boggs likes the pizza at Brenz.
“They are so delicious. The difference is that there’s really fresh ingredients like fresh avocado. All of the ingredients are high quality,” she said. “It’s nice because there’s unique different types of pizza. You don’t just have to get pepperoni or cheese, you can try something new and be a little adventurous.”
Beyond the product, Boggs said she appreciates the company’s willingness to help.
“Mark is really passionate about giving back to Ohio State so I’m really fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him and work with Brenz Pizza. They’re always willing to put in a helping hand,” she said.
Brenz is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.