Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
FILLMORE — It may be just a pizza, but to Patricia Haupt and many who enter her 5 Buck Pizza restaurant in Fillmore, it is home.
In 2004, Haupt and her husband, Matt Haupt, who is also the public works director for the town, took a chance on an up-and-coming pizza chain. Eighteen years later, their restaurant is one of four 5 Buck Pizza franchises in Utah that is not only still standing, but thriving.
"I don't know the exact number, but I know there were at least 30-something franchises in Utah, and then they were moving out of the state into California and Idaho and some different places," Haupt said. "We thought it would be a great idea to open in Fillmore because it was more affordable than anything we had available to us here. You know, people down in small areas are kind of tight on money, so we thought it was a good product and a fair price."
Haupt said that she grew up in Fillmore and wanted to find a way to sustain a living for her family that would keep her in the area. It may very well be the love she has for her hometown and the focus on sustainability that has kept her in business.
"We make our dough fresh every day, and we get fresh produce and pick up mushrooms from the local mushroom plant a couple of times a week," Haupt said. "I get premium meat, and I only get Dole pineapples. The little things make a big difference."
It isn't just the locals that stop by the restaurant. In fact, Haupt said that a lot of her business consists of repeat customers who stop by on their way through town.
"We have a ton of repeat customers that stop every time they're coming through town," Haupt said. "Many will come in and say, 'Hi,' and that they've been waiting to come back and are so excited to have the pizza again. We have a lot of repeat customers, and that's a big thing in a small town. You've always got to put out a good product and treat everybody well because you need them to come back, you know?"
Focus on kind employees
While the pizza recipe has proven to be a success with customers, Haupt said that a key ingredient is making sure that her employees are kind and that they enjoy working there.
"We employ the young people, and you know it's kind of funny because a lot of times we get multiple kids from the same family over the years," Haupt said. "I try to have a vested interest in my employees and get to know them. Your employees are the face of your business, so you should treat them well."
One former employee and Fillmore native, Ember Anderson, agreed that the atmosphere was next to none.
"I started working there in 2017 when I turned 16, and I worked there for almost four years," Anderson said. "The atmosphere at 5 Buck was super supportive. Once, I had a big singing competition coming up, and my boss invited all of my co-workers to come after closing to listen to me and help me choose a song to sing for this competition. I feel like everyone supported everyone."
Haupt chooses good people to work at her restaurant in part, she says, because she is also working there right with them.
"I always say that I won't hire anyone that I don't want to work with myself," Haupt said. "I work right alongside them because I believe that working in your own store is very important. I think it helps keep people in business longer, and I would never ask them to do something I wouldn't be willing to do myself. We work as a team, and I work right there with them."
'We still have a 5 Buck Pizza'
Even with many restaurant chains raising prices and cutting back, Haupt said it's been important to stay true to low prices and quality.
"We've tried to keep a fair price for a great product all through the years. It's not a luxury that people shouldn't be able to afford," Haupt said. "We still have a '5 Buck pizza,' and we've never veered away from all toppings at the same price. Customers can pick any amount of regular toppings for the same price. It's very much pizza your own way, and we plan on keeping it that way."
It may just be pizza — and pasta and fruit smoothies — but from the looks of it, the 5 Buck Pizza in Fillmore is a place where locals and passers-by call home.
Correction: An earlier version had Patricia and Matt Haupt's name misspelled as Haput.