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The Loop Pizza Grill

GRAND OPENING: October 9, 2004

GENERAL MANAGER: Fred Baker

AMBIENCE: An upscale version of the neighborhood pizza place. The bright decor includes multicolored tiling and bright paintings to contribute to a unique and funky atmosphere. Orders are taken at registers, but the setting evokes a sit-down dinner. Originating in Jacksonville, FL, this franchise is owned by Terry and Mike Schneider. The couple named it "The Loop" after the financial district in Chicago, the city where Terry grew up. Now, there are over 21 Loops with plans to construct 47 more in the near future. General Manager Fred Baker says the restaurant is meant to provide "a fast-paced casual atmosphere that appeals to families."

SEATING: About 128 can be seated in the main dining area in moveable tables and booths. Weather permitting, the outside patio can seat up to 32. If needed, highchairs are available.

PRICE RANGE: An individual pizza with five toppings is $6.29 and a large is $17.29. Specialty pizzas typically range from $5.99 for an individual, $10.99 for a medium and $16.99 for a large. The "Always fresh, never frozen" burgers start at $5.89 and go up to $6.99. Sandwiches run anywhere from the Grilled Chicken for $6.49 to the Grilled Ahi Tuna or Spicy Barbeque Chicken for $7.49. "The Original" Tomato Bisque comes highly recommended and "the Gorgonzola Walnut Salad is one of our most popular items aside from the pizza and milkshakes," stated Baker.

TYPE OF CUISINE: Most well known for their pizza, the menu has over 22 toppings to select from. Pizzas are served on thin or thick crusts with "always fresh toppings" and are served with marinara and four cheeses. Specialty pizzas range from the Artichoke and Smoked Bacon to Portobello Mushroom. Aside from pizzas, there are a wide variety of dishes including salads, salad wraps, soups, burgers and sandwiches.

SOUND LEVEL: Although perfect for accommodating a family, this is the kind of place where you could take your lunch break from work without having to actually go to a fast food joint. But chances are everyone will have the same idea, so the lunch rush may get a bit loud.

HOURS: Open seven days a week. Sunday through Thursday 11am until 10pm and Friday and Saturday 11am until 11pm.

RECOMMENDED PARKING: Nothing tricky. Park in the restaurant's designated parking lot and in you go.

CREDIT CARDS: All major credit cards accepted.

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Wheelchair accessible.

Fresh Start is Creative Loafing's bi-weekly snapshot of a newly opened restaurant in the Charlotte area. It is not a review. We wait at least several weeks before giving a recently opened restaurant a full-fledged review; Fresh Start is a way to give readers basic information about area restaurant newbies.

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