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Sunday, December 21, 2014 | Last updated: 2:55am

Former Arizona football player opens restaurant on campus



Former Arizona football offensive lineman Trace Biskin has gone from serving up pancakes to pizza.

Biskin, the Tucson chief operating officer, recently opened up Pizza Studio on Park Avenue, just south of Speedway Boulevard. Biskin’s father, Ron, and Samit Varma founded Pizza Studio in 2012 in Los Angeles, and it has expanded to nearly 26 locations.

The eatery offers preset recipes or the chance for customers to build their own pizza, similar to the style of Chipotle, that “cooks in two minutes,” Biskin said.

Biskin played offensive guard at Arizona in 2011 and 2012, serving as a team captain his senior year. The Daily Wildcat talked to Biskin about his new restaurant and Arizona football.

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By Rebecca Marie Sasnett / The Daily Wildcat
Trace Biskin, Tucson chief operating officer of Pizza Studio and former UA offensive lineman, makes a buffalo chicken pizza at Pizza Studio on Monday in Tucson, Ariz. Pizza Studio, a new pizza restaraunt on Speedway Boulevard and Park Avenue, opened on Aug. 7 and allows customers to create their own pizza with unlimited toppings.

Daily Wildcat: What’s it like growing up in a restaurant family?

Biskin: [My dad has] been in the business for 30-some-odd years, he was with … Burger King, TGI Fridays, Baja Freshand Wendy’s for a while. It was good. Even though I didn’t focus on it when I was growing up, I’ve always kind of learned different aspects and different nuances about the restaurant business and about the importance of attention to detail and the guest being first and all that stuff. So that’s really kind of helped me I’d say in opening up my first restaurant.

What makes Pizza Studio unique?

I think just the idea of allowing the guest to build their own personalized pizza. Most pizza places traditionally, it’s like, if you go in with a group of people, you have to decide on a topping, then you have to decide what size and you only get a couple slices. Here every pizza’s 11 inches, so you get 11 inches to make your own pizza. The good thing is that you can have it for a meal or it’s still big enough that you can split it with somebody. It really depends on the day and how you’re feeling.
Here at the Pizza Studio, we pride ourselves on grocer veggies; we have fresh grade cheeses, for example, we use low moisture whole milk for our Mozzarella cheese, which forces us to grate our cheese every single day, otherwise it clumps together. So that’s really one of the important things that makes us stand out, all the premium meats, nitrate free pepperoni, for example, all natural chicken breast. We take great pride in the quality of ingredients that we offer to guests, and the different flavors and crust. I mean, we have whole grain and flax seed, spicy firecracker — these are really crusts you can’t find any where else.

Why’d you pick Tucson?

Because I went to the U of A and I played football here, and I did my undergraduate and graduate work here, and I just have a real affinity for Tucson. I think the community gave me so much as a student-athlete that I really want to give back in a way and through … my dad and what he was doing and, when I got done with graduate school, I was looking for something to do and it really all came together. It was a great opportunity for me to move back to Tucson.

This seems like a really booming location with the new apartments and businesses around Pizza Studio.

Yeah, I believe there are 1,600 kids that are going to be living on this block, between Park and Euclid. It’s a great opportunity. We’ve already done marketing where we’ve handed out menus and various coupons. Personally, I walk around with samples, handing them out to people, letting them know we just opened, we’d love to have you come by, about our loyalty program. If you sign up for our loyalty program, your next pizza will be free. We’re really focusing on what will draw people to the Studio.

With this being Rich Rod’s third year, what are your thoughts on the football program?

Oh, I’m so excited. I’ve obviously been very busy with this all summer, but I’ve had the opportunity to pop into a practice and you could tell there’s an enthusiasm, a speed, a force, an overall excitement for the football program at practice. Everybody from the trainers to the coaches to the players — you can just tell they’re going to do something special this year, and I’m certainly excited to cheer them on.

Follow James Kelley @jameskelley520


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