Burn Box owner Ryan Whitfield holds a pepperoni pizza, fresh out of the brick oven. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)
Burn Box owner Ryan Whitfield holds a pepperoni pizza, fresh out of the brick oven. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)

Across Prince George’s County, there are 21 Pizza Huts, 17 Domino’s Pizza and 14 Papa John’s.

Burn Box is a locally-operated, Black-owned alternative founded in 2019 by Ryan Whitfield and Shawndell Pullam. The 1995 Crossland High graduates are proud to emphasize community impact and healthy eating in their business.

“We give away a pizza for every pizza. Get good food and at the same time, you’re feeding someone else,” Whitfield said in an interview.

“The national ones don’t do anything and aren’t seen in the community helping out. You see us at churches and food banks giving things away.”

They currently have 15 employees and are available to order via UberEats and DoorDash. The pizzas are very customizable, with options for different sauces, cheeses and herbs to add. They also offer salad and wings. During an interview at his restaurant, community patrons got pizzas to go while shopping and a Wizards fan sat down to enjoy a pepperoni pizza.

This is not Whitfield’s first business venture. He has owned six Smoothie Kings and his experience with running an existing franchise has been instrumental in shaping Burn Box. He has closed three of his Smoothie Kings, two in Silver Spring and one in New Jersey, but has been able to dedicate his time and attention to Burn Box.

Burn Box is located in Watkins Plaza Park, near Six Flags. In the same shopping center, you can find a Smoothie King that is also owned and operated by Whitfield and Pullam. He soon is opening a Burn Box in Waldorf this winter, and eventually will expand to other areas of Maryland. He plans to use digital pick-up technology similar to Chick-fil-A’s to ensure quality and timely customer service. His experience with UberEats and DoorDash has shown him limited returns, as the fees are prohibitively high.

Aside from the Build Your Own pizza, the most popular option on the menu is the Meat Me Up: a pepperoni, sausage, and bacon pizza. Whitfield’s personal favorite is the Crab Catcher: a pizza with seafood sauce, jumbo crab, parsley, cherry tomatoes and roasted red peppers. Whitfield cited a better flavor profile, the brick oven’s special spin, and local options like crab pizza as just a few reasons to eat local instead of national.

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