After nine years in the NFL, tight-end Billy Bajema, who also played football at Westmoore High School and Oklahoma State University, is embarking on a new career in the restaurant business.
Bajema is partnering with longtime friend and former OSU teammate Josh Fields to bring the Texas-based Pie Five Pizza Co. concept to Oklahoma City. Pie Five was founded in The Colony, Texas, and has expanded rapidly to 19 locations in Texas, Utah, Kansas, Florida and North Carolina. The concept, owned by the international Texas-based franchise Pizza Inn Holdings, is now expanding to other states and has about 160 stores in development in six states. The company announced plans to expand into Missouri, Nebraska and Virginia along with Oklahoma.
Pie Five features specialty pizzas made from a combination of 20 different toppings, seven sauces and four kinds of crust made from scratch.
Fields, who played both baseball and football at OSU and who was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2004, met Bajema when they played on the Norman Giants baseball team as 13-year-olds.
Over the course of Bajema’s pro football career, he played with the San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams and the 2012 Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, but he has stayed close to his Oklahoma roots.
Bajema lives in Edmond with his wife, Emily, and four children and said he is ready to start the next chapter of his life.
“I’ve been playing football since I was a little kid and I couldn’t ask for anything better than to have a nine-year career in the NFL,” Bajema said. “It’s been a blast, but now I’m looking forward to the opportunity to pursue a new business.”
Bajema and a group of investors have inked a 10-unit franchise deal with Pie Five in Oklahoma. The group hopes to open its first Pie Five Pizza later this year in Oklahoma City.
Bajema’s brother-in-law, Tyce Jones, and Brandon Birdwell, another college friend and fellow athlete who owns three Firehouse Subs franchises in the area, are also part of the Pie Five franchise group. The group’s multi-unit agreement with Pie Five covers all of Oklahoma.
Fields said he and the rest of the group was attracted to Pie Five’s product and business model.
“Billy was inquiring about concepts and had just tried a competitor, but I told him he needed to check out Pie Five,” Fields said. “All it took was one visit, and when he saw what they had to offer – not only in the form of a perfect pizza, but also the exceptional business model – he was sold. It didn’t take long for all of us to get on board and join the Pie Five Pizza family.”
Bajema says he hopes to open his first Pie Five in the Oklahoma City area later this summer. The group is still finalizing the location.