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'This is what you can do': Pi Indy owner on business' growth and providing opportunities

We're Open Indy — Black History Month: Pi Indy
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Posted at 8:45 AM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 08:36:43-05

In celebration of Black History Month, We're Open Indy is highlighting Black-owned businesses in the Indianapolis-area. Check out all of the stories at wrtv.com/blackhistorymonth.

CARMEL — "This food truck is unlike any I had seen," wrote a Yelp Elite about the Pi Indy pizza truck that made an appearance at his apartment complex one December evening.

The Pi Indy pizza truck has been dazzling the likes of Indianapolis and its neighboring towns since 2014. The shipping container that sits atop a Freightliner showcases the inner workings of making brick-oven pizza on the fly, by way of a marvelous glass wall.

"Pizza is like the number one food that just crosses every barrier," Lawrence Scully, the owner and culinary great of Pi Indy, said.

"Doesn't matter if you're Black, Brown, Yellow — if it's good it's good, ya know? That's kind of the way I approached it, and it's kind of taken off and gotten my foot into tons of doors."

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Scully, 35, opened up his first brick-and-mortar location inside of Sun King Spirits in Carmel in 2018. Nearly three years later, Carmel residents have been some of his most supportive customers.

"It's worth everyone to at least come and see," Scully said. "You can obviously go to any fair or festival and see the food truck, but I think getting out of your comfort zone and coming up to Carmel, I think, would be a good thing to do."

The pizza truck venture proved to still be a viable wave during the pandemic, however, as it served as a safer alternative to dining out in restaurants.

Scully says when COVID-19 first struck, he had fears like others in the restaurant industry. But, a few Facebook posts from his team and a consistent stream of email requests from neighborhoods kept the business running smoothly.

"When the pandemic first started last year we were very grateful, honestly. I was out getting calls from everyone," Scully said. "Once we put that post out it was one family, one neighborhood, one business after the next saying 'Hey can you guys come serve lunch.' Or, 'Hey can you guys come to our neighborhood.' I was having to turn down things there for a while."

For the last three months, however, Scully and his employees have remained mostly at Sun King as the cold weather's settled in.

"It's our slow season," Scully said. "So the last few months have been tough because we're still at 50% capacity, and our store being in Carmel, they have a plethora of things they can choose from so it's not always as busy as we would like it to be."

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With the downtime, Scully is focused on what's next in his entrepreneurial journey.

After seven years of solid business under his belt, the Ball State culinary grad is focused on providing education to those who're seeking it, but most importantly, opportunities.

"As I continue to progress being an entrepreneur, being able to provide opportunity is my number one goal — opportunity and information," Scully said. "My food knowledge does go a little bit further than, 'how can I make money doing this.' That's the platform I want to continue to build as Scully Culinary grows. We want to get into more inner-city places ... Cut some of those food deserts, and provide better food options."

Being a businessman is almost innate for Scully.

"That was how I grew up. You can do it on your own if you do it right," he said.

His mother owned and operated a successful home health care business in northwest Indiana — where Scully grew up in Michigan City — that she eventually sold to a local hospital. He also participated in an entrepreneurship program called the HOPE program — Helping Our People Excel — for upwards of 10 years. He says the program taught him, and continues to teach, kids "things that we don't really see taught a lot anymore, but we really need to get back."

"If I work hard enough, I can provide opportunity for four or five other people. A lot of the time I'm not really working to pay myself per se. A lot of decisions I make with my employees and their families in mind," Scully said.

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A Pi Indy employee putting a pizza in the brick oven at Sun King Spirits in Carmel.
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Scully has worked in the kitchens of several Italian eateries in the area, such as the once-forgotten Pizzaology on Mass Ave and Patachou's Napolese at Keystone at The Crossing. It's where his love for Indianapolis started to grow, but he says now he's "falling in love with a lot of people, and forming some great relationships with people just from hiring."

He remarks that although his path as a Black entrepreneur has been one of growth and an upward trajectory, there are still roadblocks that even he faces because of his race.

"Because we are Black, we can't just walk into a bank and be like 'Hey bud I got this amazing business plan ..' And it could match up perfectly to somebody who doesn't look like me, but once we both walk in there, sit down, and have that meeting, it's going to be a completely different result."

Scully says he does see the racial bias changing, but remarks, "not quick enough."

All in all, a trip to Carmel to grab a bite of the famous Figgy Piggy pizza — or any of the other assortment of menu items Scully has added to his menu at Sun King — is a must.

"It's still good to come up and see this is what you can do. This is what you can aspire to. You can come up and talk to me at any time. I'll make sure you're comfortable. So just get out of the city. Come up to Carmel. Come see us."

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Pi Indy
*You can catch where the pizza truck will be on social media, and reach out via email for the chance to have them come out to your neighborhood.
Sun King Spirits:
Monday - Thursday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Friday - Saturday: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.