'We keep pizza weird': New restaurant Pizza Cat to open in former Ready Player One space
Sadly, Greektown has lost its bar arcade Ready Player One, which opened in 2017 with video games, fun cocktails and shareable food. It did reopen after the pandemic, but with limited hours, and ultimately closed for good earlier this year.
Fortunately a new fun-loving concept is gearing up to go in its place, so the lower-level hangout space won't be empty for long.
Pizza Cat is a new brand that serves pizza for a variety of dietary needs: vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and keto. There's one Pizza Cat in Toledo, and Pizza Cat Max is set to open in Greektown with a full bar as soon as next month.
"We keep pizza weird," says co-owner Andre Robinson, who has roots in the Detroit restaurant industry and has also been a radio DJ. He says that Pizza Cat will have video games on flat screen televisions, but no stand-up, old school arcade games like Ready Player One was known for. Robinson said with Checker Bar's Offworld Arcade just a four minute walk away, he didn't want have the same concept.
"I did want to give kind of an homage to the fact that Ready Player One came and they were the first to do it in the market. I kind of wanted to do a little bit of that but mainly focus on the pizza and the dining experience," he said.
The customizable pizzas will include some unique toppings such as pickles and brisket, and Pizza Cat Max will also have a "Trapper's Alley" pizza decked out like a coney dog. In addition to round pizzas, Pizza Cat also sells chicken and steamed bagels topped like pizzas.
"The other thing that sets us apart is we cook our pizza in pie pans. Literally we fry the bread in the oven and it's edge-to-edge pizza. Most people have a half-inch crust. We don't waste time with wasting bread like that, we use the entire surface of this pizza or pie for edge-to-edge cheese."
Robinson said he and his Pizza Cat partner Matt Wojtowicz plan to launch three versions of their franchise: a standard carryout pizza restaurant, a Pizza Cat Express for airports or office buildings and the Pizza Cat Max, a full-service, sit-down bar and restaurant.
While Robinson said he's worked for other brands and restaurants in the city before, he's excited to live his own dream.
"The Pizza Cat thing is just an amazing opportunity," he said. "I love pizza and you can never have enough pizza anywhere."
Once open, Pizza Cat will be at 407 E. Fort in Detroit. Visit pizzacat.com for more information.