Pizza Motus shutters

West U Roman-inspired pizzeria folds after less than a year

West U Roman-inspired pizzeria folds after less than a year

Pizza Motus patio
Pizza Motus has closed. Photo by Becca Wright

West University Place residents and pizza fans across the Houston area suffered a loss over the weekend. Pizza Motus, the Roman-inspired pizzeria, has shuttered after less than a year in business.

Owner Will Gruy confirmed the closure but declined CultureMap's request to comment on the circumstances surrounding his decision to cease operations. His experience living in Rome, where he attended school and had a brief career as a professional motorcycle racer, inspired him to open the restaurant. 

When it opened last August, the restaurant seemed to have a lot going for it: a neighborhood-friendly BYOB policy with no corkage fee, a convenient location near neighborhood staples like Tiny's No. 5 and Little Matt's, and being one of the few restaurants in Houston to serve pizza al taglio. The style, which is popular in Rome, is known for using dough with a longer fermentation period that yields a light, airy crust. Sold as whole pies or by-the-slice, Gruy hoped to appeal to West U families.

So why didn't it catch on? For some insight, we turned to CultureMap's resident expert on both West U and pizza: columnist Ken Hoffman. He had concerns about Pizza Motus' prospects from the beginning.

"To win in Houston's extremely competitive pizza market, you need to offer a terrific product at a reasonable price. Pizza Motus did neither," Hoffman says. "Plus parking was an issue, and they didn't offer home delivery. I thought it was doomed the day it opened. Personally, I'm disappointed because I could walk there from my spring/summer house [note: it's also his fall/winter house]."

Thanks to Ken for his insight.

Fans of Pizza Motus' pizza al taglio will find a modified version at Vinny's, Agricole Hospitality's pizza by-the-slice restaurant in EaDo. True fans of the style might hope that Bonci, the acclaimed Rome-based restaurants with locations in Chicago and New Orleans, will someday make its way to the Bayou City.