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School pizza project turns into a real restaurant

Posted at 10:23 PM, Sep 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-04 23:25:53-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — We all remember those cool teachers we had in high school. Well, Odem High School culinary arts teacher, Adam Martinez, is putting the cool in school with a school project that he brought to life- and he said it all started off with a dare.

“The kids dropped a ‘I dare you to open a restaurant and so I had the kids, we had the concept, we had the business plan, and we had the pizza,” Martinez said.

That double dog dare turned into Updog Pizza, a pizzeria close to the high school in Odem that has current students and graduates working for Martinez.

“Everything I’m going to bring is going to revolve around building relationships with the students…some people might think we’re crazy, but I think we’re fun,” he said.

Their pizzas on the menu are inspired by the city of Odem and the high school. Their name is based on what Martinez calls a “dad joke”.

“I want customers when they walk in to say 'it smells like up-dog in here' and we have to respond 'what’s up dog',” Martinez said.

Martinez said he’s enjoyed working at the restaurant so much that he’s considering opening about four more in the future.

Senior Hannah Encina, one of Martinez’s students, said the business comes in handy because she wants to own a bakery one day, and the project turned business is helping her learn how to run one.

“I also want to open up my place sooner or later so being here with everyone and doing these pizzas and then just having this all come together is awesome and then I get to experience what I want to do in future also,” Encina said.

Shelby Roberson is a graduate of Odem High School and was in Martinez’s class last year. She found the project so inspiring that she came back as an employee.

“It’s a good learning experience for me, especially the business aspect. A lot of us can learn from that. A lot of us won’t really learn stuff like that,” Roberson said.

Roberson said the Odem community is at the heart of the business because they’ve been supportive.

“It’s kind of like one of those family things here in Odem, so it’s kind of like if you’re going to need help, someone’s going to help you, and that’s the best part about Odem because we’re all here to help each other.”