Eric Duensing is used to going out on a limb. In 2009, Duensing and a friend decided to dive headfirst into the brandnew food truck market in Washington D.C.
“We were the fourth food truck in DC at the time, and we grew from one truck to a franchise with five trucks,” Duensing remembers.
That first business venture, DC Slices, earned a reputation for serving DC residents the type of hand-tossed, thin-crust, fold-them-in-half pizza slices popular in New York City.
“We were pizza lovers making the best pizza we could make,” Duensing said.
A few years later, in 2014, Duensing and his DC Slices business partner moved to Pacific Beach on the Washington Coast, where they ran a wood-fired pizza food truck out of a 1930s Ford flatbed before opening Frontagers Pizza Co., a classic Italian restaurant, in 2016.
Duensing met his future wife, Karista Young, on the Washington Coast, and the couple, along with Young’s two school-aged children, started looking for a place to call home.
“I said I could live anywhere, as long as I’m near an airport,” Duensing, now a retired air traffic controller, said.
Young had family in Clark County, and a best friend who lived in Camas, so the family found themselves drawn to Southwest Washington.
“We were coming to Camas and I saw there was an opportunity for a pizza (shop),” Duensing said, noting that downtown Camas hadn’t had a true pizza parlor since Twilight Pizza closed its downtown location in 2007.
“I said, ‘If there’s ever an opportunity to open (a pizza shop) here, I want to do it,'” Duensing said.
When he found out Mill City Brew Werks, located in the heart of Camas’ historic downtown at the corner of Northeast Fourth Avenue and Northeast Cedar Street, was closing due to COVID-19 pandemic, Duensing jumped at the chance to open a downtown Camas pizza restaurant.
Camas Slices opened Jan. 6, during one of the most restrictive phases of the pandemic, and could only offer takeout and walk-up services at first, but Duensing said that was a blessing in disguise.
“We were able to crawl before we walked, then ran,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better rollout.”
Now that Clark County is in Phase 3 of the state’s reopening, Camas Slices is able to offer in-person dining with 50-percent capacity, as well as takeout and pickup services.
Duensing co-owns the restaurant with John Strocko, and has also partnered with Gary Thompson, the owner of Camas Brewing Company, to produce and serve craft brews at the downtown Camas site.
The restaurant offers a wide selection of specialty salads with handmade dressings, as well as, of course, New York style pizzas. Soon, the Camas Brewing Company beers will be flowing, and Camas Slices will also offer stromboli, calzones and rectangular, deep-dish Detroit-style pizzas.
“We want to be the pizza guys of Camas,” Duensing said. “We believe in Camas and love the town. We want to be Camas’ pizza joint.”
The pizza shop is located at 339 N.E. Cedar St., in downtown Camas, and is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. For more information, visit camasslices.com or facebook.com/Camasslices.