Revving its Engines

Fast-casual pizza concept, PizzaRev, is positioned for growth

PizzaRev opened a concept test kitchen in Los Angeles in April 2012. Today, it has nine company-owned restaurants with 19 more company and franchised stores on the way.

“This isn’t just about our growth, but also growth in the fast casual pizza space,” said Irv Zuckerman, co-CEO of PizzaRev. In fact, the fast casual pizza space is much bigger than it was two years ago when PizzaRev opened its first concept. New concepts from well-known brands, such as Chipotle’s Pizzeria Locale, have opened up within the last year.

PizzaRev has positioned itself to grow with a number of franchise partners. “We continue to seek multi-unit franchise partners who have the passion to help build our brand and collectively make us the best fast casual restaurant in the industry,” Zuckerman said.

For example, the 1,000-unit Buffalo Wild Wings chain is a PizzaRev franchise partner that plans to open two units in the next few months in Minneapolis with more on the way. While it isn’t common practice for a franchisee to be a partner, Buffalo Wild Wings is also a minority stakeholder in PizzaRev.

Building better pizzas fast

The PizzaRev fast casual idea aims to move the customization process forward and improve on what hamburger restaurants and other specialty brands have done.

“First you had McDonald’s and Burger King, and then came Smashburger and Five Guys who offered wider ingredient choices,” said Robert Haas, PizzaRev’s exclusive Los Angeles broker, X Team International Partner and cofounder of LA-based Cypress Retail Group. “The paradigm shift taking place in the pizza space means better quality on all levels.”

In short, the fast casual food experience fits today’s consumer. The ingredients are fresh, the service is fast and the price is right. “PizzaRev uses high-end mozzarella cheese that has buffalo milk in it like many fine dining restaurants use,” said Zuckerman. “We make our dough fresh daily and don’t upcharge for the long list of topping options.”

That enables interactive ordering, a concept that separates PizzaRev from the standard restaurant model. Customers watch their pizza being made and select basic ingredients: two kinds of dough, four kinds of sauce, four kinds of cheese and as many toppings as they want — from a list of 11 meats and 16 vegetables. Want more capers or fennel seed? Just ask. The pizza will cost $7.99 whether you ask for one topping or 10. “We don’t want this to be a wallet-decision,” said Zuckerman.

Using a 3.5-ton WoodStone open flame pizza oven heated to 800 degrees, in just two to three minutes customized pizzas are complete. “This means you can now enjoy a quick and fresh pizza for lunch,” Zuckerman added. “In addition, our Roman-style thin crust cuts the calorie count substantially. Guests feel good after having our pizza.”

But the customization process doesn’t stop there. Customization and ingredient variations are available for salads and the Freestyle Coca-Cola machine has hundreds of soft drink options to choose from, as well as craft and premium beers. “What we want to provide for our guests is an experience that fulfills our motto, ‘Craft Your Own.’ ” Zuckerman said.

Now PizzaRev’s franchise partners are going to rev it up across the country.

Quick PizzaRev Facts

What: Fast casual, craft your own artisinal pizza restaurant. Who: Partners and co-CEOs Rodney Eckerman and Irv Zuckerman; partner and COO Nicholas Eckerman; partner and CMO Jeff Zuckerman. Exclusive L.A. Broker Bob Haas, X Team International Partner and co-founder of the L.A.-based Cypress Retail Group. Current number of stores: Nine, with 19 in the pipeline in 2014. Average size: 2,000 to 3,000 sq. ft. Website: pizzarev.com. More: Check out the Chain Store Age exclusive series about PizzaRev, “Small Retailer, Big Plans,” at chainstoreage.com/real-estate.

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