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It’s not just what’s in the Sauce … Lake Forest pizzeria provides more than pie BY STEVE SADIN DAILYNORTHSHORE.COM


fter a career where he climbed near the top of the food service industry’s corporate ladder, Craig Grimes of Lake Forest spent a year as a serious student of pizza. Once his education was complete, Grimes opened Sauced Pizza in October offering home delivery and carry-out orders of pizza and more in Lake Forest. Customers get a variety of choices when it comes to crust, sauce and ingredients. Before an order is complete, the customer selects from a pair of crusts, five sauces, a minimum of 22 toppings ranging from a basic pepperoni to pineapple or jalapenos and four sizes, according to Grimes. Raised in the St. Louis area, Grimes had an early exposure to the food service industry. Owning his own business was always a dream. He got a lot of on-theground as well as formal education on the way to opening Sauced Pizza. “Restaurants are a way of life in St. Louis,” said Grimes. “I started cooking at a very young age and grew up working in restaurants. I bused tables, waited

tables, bartended and managed.” More than 20 years ago, Grimes joined the Levy organization and moved to the Chicago area. He landed in Lake Forest 10 years ago and was a regional vice president in charge of the restaurant division. When he joined the company it grossed $30 million annually. When he left its sales were $1.5 billion. While working for Levy, Grimes was asked to join the board of directors of Nature Foods, a vegan restaurant chain. When the company was in need of strong leadership, he was asked to become its CEO. He took the job. Grimes Opens Own Business After a few years with Nature Foods, Grimes decided it was time to open his own business. He had to decide what kind and make sure he knew everything there was to know about it before taking the plunge. Pizza was a natural choice. “Pizza is always what comes up when it’s family meal time,” said Grimes. It was time for his pizza schooling. Returning to his St. Louis restaurant roots, Grimes got in touch with a friend who owns Imos Pizza there, spending much of his time working most of the jobs that need to be done in a pizzeria. It has 92 locations mostly in Missouri. Many of them are franchises. After immersing himself in Imos’ way of doing things, he

the cheese mix for the pizzas, he said he conducted focus groups to refine the decision. Sauced Pizza uses a five-cheese mix of Romano, Parmesan, Asiago, Mozzarella and Provolone. He said it is a blend of aged and fresh. Menu choices are not limited to pizza. Customers can also order pasta, wings, salads, desserts and beverages. For employees of Sauced Pizza, Grimes said he offers another opportunity. Once a An Abundance of Choices Once customers choose person becomes a general between the crispy thin crust or manager, Grimes puts $6,250 a the traditional hand-tossed year away for them for four years. variety, they pick one of five That will be the money the person sauces—traditional red tomato, needs to buy a franchise. white Alfredo, pesto, smoky bar“They get the chance to beque or olive oil. Then they get become the CEO of their own into toppings. He said popular business,” said Grimes. “They will demand will govern the expan- be the one to connect with the sion of what people want on their community. We’re small now but pizza. in a few years they will be reBefore Grimes came up with warded.” — from the guy who takes everything to the dumpster to the person who makes the dough,” said Grimes. “It takes a team not an individual.” Sauced Pizza’s customers get a lot of choices when selecting a pizza, which include the standard menu to the artesian pizzas that are offered as specials each month, such as Chicken Florentine or barbeque bacon chicken.

Owner Craig Grimes flies some wings at Sauced in Lake Forest. PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOEL LERNER.

contacted another friend who operates 142 Pizza Huts in Texas and learned as much as he could there as well. He said it was vital

to opening Sauced Pizza. “It’s critical to have an appreciation of what everyone contributes to the success of a restaurant

North Shorts Takes by the Lake by Bill McLean “Numb and number”

thought you had before learning the news — those unreturned ou scan the news on your phone calls at work, that phone early one morning. mysterious back pain, that It had been delivered via worrisome noise your car makes — all seem minor now, petty to email from a colleague. the nth degree. You blink. You read it again. Numbness settles in and You try to process it, but lingers. profound sadness interrupts the You attempt to get through the process. rest of the day. A voice from your All of the problems you car radio asks an on-air expert


about what to do about a leaky faucet. You punch in another station, and another voice is concerned about what the Chicago Bears will do with the third pick in the NFL Draft in April. You turn down the volume because whatever you’ll hear for the rest of the day will sound trivial. You think about the sad news

again. You still find yourself in some sort of trance, wondering if you’re ever going to blink again. Minutes later, a barista gives you a smile after giving you a cup of coffee. You needed both; you’re thankful for both. It’s a moment — a precious one — you had taken for granted for too many years before today. “Precious” was the word you saved to describe a newborn.

It’s now a good word to use to describe every minute of every day. A week later, you attend a funeral that feels nothing like a funeral. Yes, you hear sniffles to your left and to your right, and your eyes well up a couple of times. But the service turns into a true celebration of a remarkable life. You mingle with others after the service. A man is in awe of what he learned about a woman

who had treated each day as a golden opportunity to love others. ‘I want to approach life the way she did,” the man says to you. You are no longer numb. From a death, you and hundreds of others in the church had gained a healthy perspective on life. You exit the church. You can’t wait to live life anew.

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The North Shore Weekend West, Issue 87  

The West Zone of the North Shore Weekend is published every two weeks and features the news and personalities of Glenview, Northbrook, and D...

The North Shore Weekend West, Issue 87  

The West Zone of the North Shore Weekend is published every two weeks and features the news and personalities of Glenview, Northbrook, and D...

Profile for jwcmedia