May 9, 2014
10:44 AM
Connecticut Today

Krust Pizza Bar in Middletown Launches Kickstarter Campaign

Krust Pizza Bar in Middletown Launches Kickstarter Campaign

The bar at Krust which features an extensive whiskey and bourbon selection.

A few years ago, Kevin Wirtes and Rich Garcia met while they were both working in crisis management at The Hartford Financial Services Group. The idealistic pair was brought together by a shared love of cycling, craft beer and whiskey.

“We didn't want to sit in cubicles for the rest of our live,” recalls Wirtes.

No, they wanted something more and that something came in the form of The Krust Pizza Bar in Middletown, a bar and restaurant specializing in wood-fired pizza (made with local ingredients), craft beer, artisan cocktails and boasting an extensive selection of whiskey and bourbon.

Watch the Kickstarter video

Wirtes and Garcia, who are both 32, put their respective life savings and their hearts and souls into the restaurant. When they opened, people loved the spot but Wirtes and Garcia realized they had a problem.

“Though we're busy and popular, the table turnovers and the profit margins are being crippled by our size,” Wirtes says.

Now, the pair would like to expand into an adjoining property but they didn’t have the funds to pay for that expansion. So they’re hoping to, as Joe Cocker might say, “get by with a little help from their friends.” Last month they launched a campaign on Kickstarter.com.

Kickstarter is a crowd-funding website that allows people to make contributions to projects they believe in. Sometimes these contributions are straight donations, in other cases contributions are made in return for goods and services. Krust’s campaign belongs in the latter category.

“We try to stay away from the word donation. It's almost like a Groupon [a type of online, usually discounted, gift certificate],” Wirtes says. “You're paying for something and you're getting something back.”

Those who pledge $25 or more to the campaign will get a pizza in return the next time they’re at Krust. Those who pledge $50 will get a pizza and a T-shirt, and the list of pledges and rewards goes on and on; pledge $2,000 and you get your own private dinner party in the new restaurant space for you and up to 11 of your friends, with a prix fixe menu of food and drinks provided for the entire event.

Wirtes and Garcia are hoping to raise $50,000, when this story was posted they had raised just over $18,000. Their campaign ends on Friday, May 16.  Kickstarter.com works in an all or nothing manner—if the campaign does not meet the $50,000 goal, Wirtes and Garcia don’t get any funds for their project. Instead, the money pledged so far would be returned to the contributors.

If the campaign fails, Wirtes says all will not be lost. They might re-launch the campaign with a smaller amount or bring new partners into the business (an option they’d like to avoid). No matter what, Wirtes and Garcia will find a way to ensure the Krust keeps on keeping on.

“We're go-getters, we'll figure something out,” Wirtes says. 

Contact me by email eofgang@connecticutmag.com and follow me on Twitter, and connect with Connecticut Magazine on Twitter, on Facebook and Google +

 

Krust Pizza Bar in Middletown Launches Kickstarter Campaign

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