University renovating Jesta Pizza to create build-your-own pizza restaurant

Matthew Posey

University Housing and Dining is renovating Jesta Pizza to create a new build-your-own pizza restaurant, which will open next spring.

Jesta Pizza, a dining option which offered pizza by the slice inside Jester West Residence Hall, closed at the end of spring 2019, said Rene Rodriguez, director of dining at UHD. UHD recently started the renovation process to rebrand Jesta Pizza to a MOD Pizza-style restaurant, he said. 

Rodriguez said the rebranding will allow students to build their own pizzas. Jesta Pizza originally offered preset recipes, such as pepperoni and Hawaiian, and a thicker crust than what the new menu will offer, he said.

Rodriguez said UHD hoped to start construction on the pizza restaurant sooner, but the planning process took longer than expected. He said UHD is making the renovations to make Jesta Pizza more “trendy” for students.

“The thinner crust and the customization of a pizza is the newest trend,” Rodriguez said. “We’re trying to stay with the trend and give students what they like.”

Nutrition freshman Jean Nie said she is looking forward to eating at the renovated location.


“I’m always looking forward to the new food spot I can try, especially since it’s so close and accessible,” Nie said. “I would definitely go try it out at least once.”

The renovated pizza place will feature a new pizza press, ingredients and recipes for sauce and dough, Rodriguez said. 

“Our chefs and our registered dietitians are working on (new) recipes and everything to have it all ready,” Rodriguez said. “We’re in the process of testing all the new recipes. We’re testing doughs out right now and pizza presses.”

Advertising junior Yecenia Hernandez, who lived in Jester as a freshman, used to eat the Hawaiian pizza with ranch from the old Jesta Pizza. She said she would visit Jesta Pizza again if other students like the new renovations.

“I guess it would really depend if (Jesta Pizza) looks good (and) if people talk about it,” Hernandez said. “I haven’t gone back (since I was a freshman) just because I used to eat it all the time.” 

UHD is currently planning a soft opening for when students return from winter break so that employees can be trained and brought up to speed. A weeklong grand opening will follow, Rodriguez said.

“We look forward to opening it up,” Rodriguez said. “Hopefully, we’re going to have a huge grand opening celebration when we get it open.”