MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s been around for thousands of years, but right now it doesn’t get hotter than pizza.

Matt Kalil is a 25-year-old offensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings, and the big name behind Pieology Pizza in Maple Grove, St. Paul and Mankato.

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“I try to win obviously on the field and, you know, things I do off,” Matt said. “Obviously when I got drafted, you know, I had friends come from here and there [saying], ‘Hey, you need to invest in this, it’s a no brainer,’ and stuff like that. But, you know … I’m fortunate enough to have a father who knows all about that.”

Matt’s dad, Frank, is a serial entrepreneur who runs the franchise operations. They ultimately want 15 Minnesota stores.

“I own the thing 100-percent outright,” Matt said.

But his dad certainly gets some perks.

“I get free pizza, so it’s kind of cool. It works out really well, that’s why he hired me,” Frank said.

Matt says he couldn’t ask for someone better to help him run this business.

Pieology competes against local gourmet chains like Punch, and the growing fast-casual competition like PizzaRev, owned by Buffalo Wild Wings.

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“Everything I do I like to compete in,” Matt said.

The competition is to become what Chipotle did for burritos.

“We have over 35 toppings, we have six different sauces,” Frank said. “So you can kind of create whatever you want, whatever makes you feel good for pizza that day.”

No matter what you put on it, it costs just $8. You pick the crust, the sauce and the toppings on a 12-inch pie.

Fast-casual pizza is hugely popular where Matt grew up in California. He’s nearly 300 pounds, so he eaten a lot of pizza.

“Probably goes with playing football, having little football banquets when I was a kid, always having pizza,” Matt said.

Their oven can handle 30 pies at a time, and it’s just three minutes from order to delivery.

Matt lives in Minnesota year-round, and is in the stores a lot more now in the off-season.

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Pieology has 60 other locations in nine other states, with the majority of the stores in California.

Jason DeRusha