Luke Davis is not a big city guy.
The owner of Luke’s Craft Pizza tends to avoid cities larger than Charleston, where he has lived for six years. Davis doesn’t particularly like spending time in pizza capitals such as New York or Chicago, where his brother lives. “I don’t visit him as much as I should,” Davis said.
Sometimes, though, it's worth the trip. After visiting Las Vegas last week for the International Pizza Expo, Davis said he feels "inspired" about the future of Luke's.
May will mark three years since he opened his pizza shop at 271 Ashley Ave.
“I think after the first five years, I’ll be ready to do something slightly bigger,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to imagine being in this little building for 10 years.”
He said he’d like to open a larger version (yet “still small”) of Luke’s that offers seating and that maybe involves him making more than 50 pizzas per night.
Davis had been looking forward to attending the mega four-day conference for people in the pizza industry since last March, when his Instagram feed filled with pizza expo posts.
“I remember having severe F.O.M.O. last year,” he said. “So I told myself, ‘I’m going next year. Next year’s going to be the year.’”
Even though it meant venturing to a big city, he bought a ticket to the expo. On Monday, he landed in Vegas.
“I get a little overwhelmed in highly populated areas with a bunch of people around. You feel like you can’t escape,” Davis said. “There has to be something pulling me there.”
At the expo, billed as the largest event of its kind in the world, he watched workshops and cooking demos and met some of his pizza idols: Chris Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco and Tony Gemignani, a 13-time World Pizza Champion and restaurateur involved in more than 20 restaurants. Davis keeps a copy of his book, “The Pizza Bible,” on a shelf in his 450-square-foot restaurant.
Davis also ate a lot of pizza.
“There was every kind of pizza everywhere, every day, all day long,” he said. “There’s no need for lunch. You just eat while you walk around.”
With the man behind the pizzeria’s one-man-kitchen out of town, Luke’s was closed on Thursday and Friday; it's typically open Thursday-Sunday.
To offset the costs of the trip and being open only two days last week, Davis hosted a special “Bar Pie Monday,” during which he exclusively served 12-inch thin and crispy bar-style pizzas. He sold out before the event’s scheduled 9 p.m. end date.
“We’ve only done it twice before,” Davis said of the bar-pie special. “It’s something fun. People enjoy it.”
During his time in Vegas, Davis marked another first off of his list: Eating at In-N-Out Burger. He also went to Shake Shack and Milk Bar and said he enjoyed “the freedom of drinking in the street.”
“It was definitely worth going,” Davis said.
He’s already decided he’ll go back in 2020.