by Susan Ellis
For Earl “EP” Harden’s eighth birthday party, his mother made pizzas using a hamburger bun as the crust. Now, some 20 years later, the bun serves as the foundation of Harden’s “CPs,” the single-serving pizzas sold at Celebrity Pizza.
Harden opened Celebrity Pizza about six months ago in a space within a strip mall on Highland about a block south of Park. The mall is forgettable, if not downright unattractive, so stepping into the tiny but perfectly fashionable shop is a bit of a surprise. “I wanted the average person to walk in and say, ‘I wasn’t expecting this.’”
Harden, who coaches football for Memphis Catholic High School, says he chose the name Celebrity Pizza because he knows a lot of celebrities, mostly through his brother Carleton, a playwright and songwriter who founded The Voices gospel choir.
But back to those CPs. How do the buns (3 inches for the small for $1; 5 inches for the large for $3) stay intact under a pizza’s heavy ingredients? “That’s our little secret,” Harden says, but he hints that it has something to do with the sauce.
Celebrity Pizza also serves regular-sized (7-, 12-, and 16-inch) pizzas, including a chicken supreme, veggie, meat lovers, etc. One popular offering is the Famosa juice, a mix of pineapple juice and lemon-aide invented by his parents who owned a catering company.
According to Harden, “Mrs. Johnson’s banana pudding,” using his aunt’s recipe, has developed a following. “It runs out every two days,” Harden says. “People get attitudes when it’s not there.”
Harden says that while business has been picking up, he would like to see more of the college crowd, who have plenty of pizza options in the area. To that end, he’s hoping to start delivery once he’s done with football season.
Celebrity Pizza, 898 S. Highland (458-6900)