We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeff Mauldin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jeff, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
The Ria Pizzeria was born out of a variety of circumstances and influences. In February of 2021, my wife and I decided to relocate from Chapel Hill, NC to Huntington Beach, CA. The primary driver of this decision was to support and foster our son’s, Eliot, ambition to pursue a career in film and tv. We had learned of APA program at Huntington Beach High School explored what APA had to offer. We felt that the program offered Eliot the space to explore his interest.
We currently own and operate a pizzeria, Carrboro Pizza Oven, in North Carolina near the University of North Carolina. Moving to Huntington Beach put me in a position to consider opening a new location and start a brand that could be expanded to multiple locations in relative short order. Starting from scratch, I wanted to combine elements that paid homage to my family and reflected a culture that represented my values.
The Ria Pizzeria is a culmination of my decades of restaurant leadership experience, my love for my family, and my desire to demonstrate that kindness, work ethic, generosity, community, and love can change the trajectory of lives in a positive way.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have be fortunate in the restaurant business. I got my start working in chains restaurants. In my mid-20’s, I landed a position doing R&D and Field Training for Texas Roadhouse. Later on, I joined, at the time, a small upstart called Potbelly out of Chicago and lead the DC/MD/VA market for a decade. Desiring to move back to my home state of North Carolina, I accepted a Field Leadership role with Caribou Coffee. That lead to a Field Leadership role with Chipotle. Over the years, I have worked with some of the best and brightest restaurant industry leaders.
In 2017, I decided to start my own company and owned and operated a very successful pizzeria in Carrboro, NC. We still own CPO. In 2021, we relocated in Huntington Beach, CA and began work on our new brand, The Ria Pizzeria.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m relatively new to Huntington Beach and have a lot to learn about what the area has to offer. Nothing beats a walk on the beach at sunrise and sunset. We love visiting the pier and the restaurants downtown HB.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate this shoutout to three people: my wife Becky, my son Eliot, and my dad Bob. As I often ask my wife, “who has it better than this guy?”. I feel so grateful to have Becky and Eliot in my corner, cheering me on, loving me unconditionally, always there for me. Because of their love and support, nothing seems impossible.
I also want to give recognition to my dad that taught me that a strong work ethic and a kind heart leads to a clear conscience and a good night’s sleep.