After 11 years, two former Oklahoma State football stars are meeting on the field again.
Except this time, the field is business, and it has a lot more pizza.
Billy Bajema and Josh Fields opened a Pie Five pizza franchise, at 611 N. Perkins, on Friday but the partnership between the two started much earlier.
“Josh and I have known each other since little league baseball when we were 13-years-old,”Bajema said. “Then we were in the same class and room together here at Oklahoma State.”
While the two were at Oklahoma State, they connected on many passes, with Fields as the quarterback and Bajema the tight end. After OSU, Fields made his way to Major League Baseball and Bajema to the National Football League.
Years later, they connected in the field of business. Fields, who owns franchises of Firehouse Subs, already had experience in owning a major franchise, and when Bajema considered opening one of his own, he looked to Fields for advice.
Unexpectedly, Fields and his partner, Brandon Birdwell, had already looked at opening a Pie Five franchise.
“They were really fired up that I was interested because they were interested and just a little too committed to Firehouse at the time to do anything about it,” Bajema said. “So we decided to look into it together.”
Once Fields, Birdwell and Bajema were able to communicate with the corporate representatives from Pie Five, they decided to create a limited liability company, or LLC, to open a franchise. For the group, which also includes Tyce Jones, it was only natural they named it Pistol Pies LLC, after the place where they came together.
Bajema said it was natural for the first franchise to be in Stillwater, as well.
“Having the first franchise in Stillwater just feels right for us,” Bajema said. “We called the business we formed Pistol Pies LLC, and we all love it here.
“It’s very appropriate we are able to start in Stillwater.”
For Fields, the friendship built with Bajema over the years, competing against each other in high school and playing together in college, has made opening up the Pie Five franchise much easier.
“There is a trust factor there already from being friends for so long,” Fields said. “It’s made been business partners, so far, relatively seamless.”
The Pie Five Pizza chain is a fast casual pizza restaurant. Like other fast-casual concepts, such as Chipotle and Qdoba, Pie Five has an open kitchen with quick service from order to payment that offers fresh, from scratch options. It offers salad and dessert options as well. All pies and salads are $6.99. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily.
“I think it’s the type of place that people are liking more,” Bajema said.
Bajema and Fields will open Pie Five on Friday, but Fields said he hopes that it can be a place that last much longer in customer’s minds, like his own memories with Bajema.
“It’s got something that everyone is attracted to,” Fields said. “I hope it becomes where people can make some memories and think back when they get older on the memories they made here.”