For pizza lovers, it’s a little slice of heaven in Downtown Camas … they call it Camas Slices.
As the finishing touches are made, the newest restaurant downtown will offer New York-style pizza, make its own brew, and certainly be the new hangout late into the evenings on 4th Avenue.
In the space formerly occupied by Mill City, at 4th and Cedar, a peek through the windows over the past few months have given a glimpse into the transformation … a metamorphosis that once the cocoon of Covid is through, a beautiful butterfly of a pizzeria will emerge.
Camas Slices is a long time in the making, and has quite the pedigree. First, a little history.
Eric Duensing and a sailing buddy were drinking and thinking one night and figured, “why not bring New York style pizza to the streets of Washington D.C.” And they did. With help from insiders in the East Coast pizza game, they started a food truck business that delivered hot pies to the mean streets of D.C., up until the wee hours of the morning. They drew quite a crowd, and were pioneers of the food truck business in that industry’s emergence a decade ago.
Soon, they had amassed several food trucks, and they were taking on festivals with a quarter million people. They were looking to do a brick and mortar restaurant, and were courted by West Coast folks looking for a little slice of this action. Eric partnered with some other investors and opened Frontager’s Pizza Company in Seabrook, Washington. They catered to the beach-seeking crowd from the Seattle area. There’s even a DC Slices PNW inside the Quinault Casino and Resort nearby.
A few years ago, armed with one of their DC Slices food trucks, they then looked to spread the New York-style pizza craze to the PDX area. They hit some festivals in Vancouver and Portland. They did a couple of festivals right here in Camas as well. And through those connections, got word that the downtown property on 4th Avenue came available. One quick glance at the downtown scene and the building (which had its own brewery built in), Eric and his partners were in.
“We think this pizza is needed here,” Eric said.
John Strocko is co-owner of Camas Slices with Eric and they have put the years in honing their craft, making some of the most prized pizza pies on the East Coast. He said the team goes to all the pizza expos and are always learning, making the dough better, the sauce just the right consistency, seeking out the perfect cheese.
“There’s a science to pizza, actually, it’s a craft,” John said. “We all love music, we love the arts. That’s craft. Well, pizza is very much a craft.”
This pizza craftsman joins Eric on the new venture in Camas and plans are coming into focus for the business downtown.
Camas Slices will be open every day, with a 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. closing time on Fridays and Saturdays (once COVID ends). It will be New York-style pizza, by the slice or the whole pie. They will have cheese, pepperoni, Buffalo chicken, meat lovers, supreme, veggie and Hawaiian. Gluten-free crusts will be available. And there will be vegan options. They plan to make strombolis and calzones as well.
And for a little something extra, they plan to do special Detroit-style pizzas. For those in the know, the Detroit style is more laborious and provides a cheesier, thicker square pizza. They are going to make 20 Detroit-style pizzas a day, and when they’re gone, they’re gone. A red counter at the register will provide a countdown.
Downstairs, Camas Brewing Company will be set up to brew the offerings for Camas Slices. CamBrewCo, as they’re calling it, will make a lager, a pilsner, a red beer, and an IPA, all companions for a slice or two.
All this is set for a soft opening at the first of the year, for slices and pies to go. There will be table service once Covid restrictions are lifted. Beer and the lounge and bar will follow in February.
For now, the “fast casual pub with a New York pizza counter” will build to a family-friendly hangout with televisions, a brew pub, a prime location and the feel of an industrial space with PNW flair. You could get a pizza pie for the family, a panzanella salad, fried pickles, marinated mushrooms, seven kinds of extra large chicken wings, calamari sticks, and late-night snacks sure to please those with the munchies. And a secret menu item? Spaghetti ice cream. Look it up, then come check it out when they open.
John said they plan to provide top-notch pizza for the area, for sure, but also plan to share in the Camas pride by sponsoring little league baseball and softball teams.
“We are so looking forward to being a part of this community,” Eric said.
Story by: Gary Carter