In 2009 William Safire, the late, revered New York Times political columnist and etymologist, wrote a whole column on the origins of the ubiquitous real estate utterance "location, location, location." Safire's research determined that the familiar phrase was not coined by British real estate tycoon Lord Harold Samuel, as is often thought, but appeared much earlier, in a 1926 Chicago Tribune classified ad.
Regardless of its origins, the three-word rule—"location, location, location"—has certainly held true for Versante Pizza, which first opened in Bend in 2010.
Since moving out of its traffic-choked Third Street location and into the foot-traffic friendliness of its new Galveston Avenue spot, the popular pizza joint has experienced a happy business boom.
"Basically, it's tripled our business," said Jon Sargent, who co-owns the family-friendly restaurant with longtime friend David Johnson. "We haven't had a slow day in six or seven weeks."
In mid-June Versante opened up next door to the Westside Bakery, which had recently downsized from its sprawling space on the corner of Galveston Avenue and NW Columbia Street into one-half of the two-story building that's opposite 7-Eleven on Bend's Westside. Sargent said his new neighbor, Westside Bakery owner Mike Edwards, was "totally on board" with the move.
As far as the food goes, the Versante chefs haven't changed a thing. They still serve thin, crispy cornmeal crust pies and still pile the toppings high. Prices remain the same—$8.50 (personal) to $30 (family)—depending on a pizza's toppings and size, and gluten-free crusts are still available at no extra charge. Massive, fresh green salads are still the norm, and beer (10 taps!), wine and cider are also still available, as are Versante's pasta dishes (complete with house-made marinara), oven-baked subs and bread-intensive appetizers.
Versante also has retained outside seating. But there's a big difference between patio dining at the busy intersection of Reed Market Road and Third Street and the relative calm of Versante's new Westside location.
"It's definitely getting used more," said Sargent of his outdoor picnic tables. "10 Barrel set the tone for that whole street."
Versante and other Galveston Avenue businesses are getting prepped for more change as the city continues to refine its Galveston Corridor Project, a citizen-led initiative that seeks to make the Westside street even more user-friendly. Improvements to pedestrian and bicycle safety, the creation of on-street parking and a number of landscape enhancements are all part of the proposed project. While a master plan has yet to be finalized, the city did release a request for proposals earlier this summer.
1005 NW Galveston Ave.
Hours: Sun.-Thurs. 11:30 am – 9 pm; Fri.-Sat. 11:30 am – 10 pm