When you step inside Doughocracy Pizza + Brews in University City, wooden tables line the crisp, white walls as your attention immediately turns to the long pizza counter. This is where dough is being cut and hand-stretched and over 30 freshly prepped toppings line the counter in an assembly line of sorts.

At Doughocracy, which officially opened on Delmar last week, the motto is "life, liberty and the pursuit of pizza." And for Next Gen Companies Development owner Christa McGraw, it is the customer's "ability to choose" that sets the fast-casual restaurant apart from other pizzerias around the city.

"We really saw the way food was going in this fast-casual industry," says McGraw. "Pizza hadn't been done yet." And when Chicago Franchise Systems and Next Gen Companies Development decided to launch a new build-your-own pizza franchise, St. Louis was a perfect match as its first location. "University City fit with the brand," explains Brian Curry, the director of marketing for Chicago Franchise Systems. "It's a very trendy area, but it's cool. We want people to be able to go here on a date or get something quick for lunch."

Not only are customers able to order handmade, Neapolitan-style pizza, but Doughocracy Pizza + Brews is making it fast – in three minutes and 30 seconds, to be exact. "It's not your typical pizza place," explains McGraw. By using a high-heat conventional oven, Doughocracy is able to turn out consistent pizzas every time. As it travels down the conveyor, a pizza takes a mere three minutes and 30 seconds to become a light and airy 12-inch pizza.

In addition to the build-your-own option, Doughocracy offers a variety of simple or signature pies, from the "Classic Margherita" (tomato sauce topped with fresh mozzarella, basil and olive oil) to the "Green Mile" (pesto topped with onion, zucchini, eggplant, garlic, fresh mozzarella and Pecorino Romano). As the name suggests, to accompany the food, local craft beers from Urban Chestnut Brewing Co., Schlafly Beer, Excel Bottling Co. and 4 Hands Brewing Co. are available on tap.

And it's no surprise that at Doughocracy, it's all about the dough. "Everything revolves around the dough," explains McGraw, as it's made fresh each day, proofed overnight and hand-stretched right in front of the customer. Even the salad is served on a pizza crust. And for dessert, the "Nutella Bomb" features pizza dough stretched and folded over marshmallow and Nutella and baked.

University City is the first location for Doughocracy, which will open its second location next week in Geneva, Illinois. Talks of more St. Louis locations are in the works. To celebrate its grand opening on Delmar, Wed., Nov. 18 is "Free Pie Day." From 11am to 3pm, customers can receive a free pizza by "liking" the Doughocracy Facebook page or by following the restaurant on Twitter.

At Doughocracy Pizza + Brews, pizza is an important part of daily life. "Everyone loves pizza," says Curry. "If you think about it, you can always go back to a time with family and friends, and there is a good chance pizza was involved."

Doughocracy Pizza + Brews, 6394 Delmar Blvd., Delmar Loop, University City, Missouri, 314.833.4277, doughocracy.com