For most people, 40 years running the same business would be more than enough to call it a career, especially if that business were as fast-paced as a restaurant. Chip Myles is not one of those people, though. For almost half a century, he ran Myles Pizza Pub in Bowling Green, Ohio, and now, less than four years later, Myles is back, but in a new location: Greenville, South Carolina.
The story of Myles starts with the wish to create “adult pizza.” That is, pizza with flavor that could be the centerpiece of a date night. Founder Chip Myles first created his pizza for his wife Bridget while she was pregnant with their second child. He made his own sauce and, essentially, made the pizza he wanted to eat. That pizza wasn’t New York or Chicago style. The only way to label it would be: Myles pizza.
“I always felt the corporate people had generic pizzas. I went after the idea that couples could come in or come out on a date,” Myles said.
As far as what truly makes a Myles pizza stand alone, it’s a little bit of everything. The crust comes out both chewy and crisp, which is accomplished by first cooking the pizza on a screen, then, right before it’s done, removing the screen to crisp the bottom. Then there are the toppings, which are put on raw and topped with a small mountain of cheese, which creates a crispy, melty crust on top to seal in the flavor.
You can’t forget about the sauce, either, which is made in-house by Chip weekly. Utilizing a secret blend of spices, he makes enough for a week and lets it age — one of the things he says helps the flavor. “If I had the space, I’d age it longer. The sauce I make one week, I hope I’m using the next week,” he says.
Finally, the overall size of the pizza separates a Myles pizza from others. Each pizza, he says, always was and still is intended to be a meal. You don’t need a salad (though they do offer non-pizza items) and unless you’re a professional eater, you’re not going to want dessert. (Case in point? The 16-inch Lovers pizza weighs 10 pounds when it’s done.) When you order a Myles pizza, you’re ordering an experience as much as you are a meal.
Finishing One Slice and Starting Another
When it came time to the last few weeks of the original Myles, Chip says he didn’t know what to expect. Would people be upset? Would they just stop coming in protest? When he voiced these thoughts, an employee told him that he “didn’t know what he was in for.”
And, boy, was he wrong. During the last week of business, Chip and Co got a taste of what forty years of eating his pizza meant to the community.
“We had 10 phone lines, we finally had to take them all off until the phone company told us we couldn’t do that. We just couldn’t keep it up,” he says.
Phone orders weren’t the only thing, though.
“The line appeared out of nowhere, it was blocks long. The police came out because they were blocking driveways. By 11:30 every day we had so many orders. If you were the last person to give your order, you came back at midnight to get your pizza,” he says.
Chip would work all day, go home, shower, and do it all again. It was exhausting work, but he wouldn’t do it any different. “I loved every minute of it,” he says.
And while that outpouring of support may seem like the best way to go out, they were already thinking ahead. The decision to open a new location was an easy one, and one that was made not long after the original closed at all.
“It was that week after it was all over. I remember my dad sitting on a bucket in a kitchen, dead exhausted, covered in flour from head to toe,” Chip’s daughter Meredith, who helps run Myles, says. “We all just realized ‘Can we really walk away from this?’”
Before closing the restaurant, Meredith had been looking for a place to move with her daughter and, after an aunt suggested Greenville, she visited and was sold. Then, when her parents came to visit for Fourth of July, the decision was set.
Meredith had worked almost immediately on finding a place. After ruling out the downtown area, they found a spot a few miles from downtown — with the goal of becoming a neighborhood destination.
Opening Right Before a Pandemic
After around three years, Myles Pizza Pub Version 2.0 opened in December 2019, quickly establishing itself as a neighborhood spot, as they had hoped. Then, as for every other business, everything stopped. Once they were allowed to open, Meredith says they were lucky.
A strong show of local support mixed with a wide network of people who miss Myles has kept them afloat. With such a large fanbase, Chip says, they’ve shipped pizzas all across the country. In order to do so, they freeze them for 48 hours, then overnight them in a thermal container. Factoring all of the deliveries in, she adds, equates to being open two more days per week — a savior in such trying times.
Finally, there are the scores of people who have enjoyed Myles pizza sometime in the past forty years. This group of people have consistently shown their support, stopping in while driving through or making specific trips just to taste a slice of Myles pizza again.
“The number of people who have driven in from other states that have come to eat, surprises me every day,” Chip says. “I’m so thankful.”