Here’s a bit of good news in a sea of recent restaurant closures around Los Angeles: Dough Box, the Eastside deep dish pizza spot in El Sereno, is reopening, and it’s all thanks to one very enthusiastic fan of the restaurant.
New owner Andy Mueller is set to reopen Dough Box to the public next Thursday evening, having taken the reins from former owner Alex Gonzalez late last year. Gonzalez saw the growth of Dough Box from an upstart deep dish destination operating out of a semi-private kitchen space in East LA to its standalone space in El Sereno back in 2017. At the time, Gonzalez and her team were trading on the media success and fan accolades from their first cloud kitchen to turn this sleepy stretch of Eastern Avenue into a destination for slices and Chicago-style pizzas. But after years of making a go of it, she closed up shop in late 2019 to go back to school. A shaky lease agreement at their building and the usual burdens of growing a small business had caught up with her and, as she told Eater, it was time to move on.
Enter Mueller, a longtime Eastsider with a background in art direction, lifestyle editorial, and fashion. Mueller, among other things, runs Highland Park clothing line and shop the Quiet Life, and became a fan of the restaurant after eating there plenty with his family. When he heard that Gonzalez was letting Dough Box go, he decided to step in and try to save the place. So what does a middle-aged guy with no background in restaurants want with a place like this?
“That’s a really good question,” Mueller says with a laugh over coffee this week in Highland Park. “I guess I’m doing it to carry on Alex’s tradition. I’m a pizza lover, a food lover, I lived in Chicago for a long time, and to me it’s the best pizza I’ve ever had in LA. I just didn’t want to see it go away.”
Much like Christian Ziebarth’s incredible rise in reopening closed fast food brand Naugles years ago down in Orange County, Mueller describes himself as a “superfan” who not only believes in the product and the staff (many of whom are coming back to work at Dough Box), but who also believes that the business can be a viable one.
The real remaining question is the building itself. The local family that owns Dough Box’s address wants to sell, so Mueller is talking to them about options while also understanding that the future of the restaurant may once again lay in a cloud kitchen and delivery model, or in another space altogether. “I’m willing to roll the dice and keep this place open,” says Mueller. “It’s sort of an unknown at this time, but we’re going to try to stay in El Sereno. We’ll see what happens.”
And so, starting next Thursday, expect the same old Dough Box on Eastern Avenue, but with at least a couple of new faces behind the counter. Mueller says that the hours will stay the same — Wednesday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. — as will the menu, with Sicilian, pan pizzas, and deep dish all available for delivery, take out, or dining in. The shop in El Sereno will also continue to sell slices, though at the outset the thin-crust weekly specials and vegan options will not be available.