Here’s something you didn’t need us to tell you (but we’ll do it anyway): Americans love pizza. According to Forbes, “two-thirds of every dollar gets spent at the likes of Pizza Hut, Domino’s and other fast-casual joints.” And while those industry titans compete with each other through ever-more-ridiculous stunt products like Doritos crusts and fried chicken crusts, a California startup entered what looked like a saturated market and starting blowing up.
We’re talking about Pizza Studio, a franchise that launched in 2012 and currently has 30 locations around the country. Even more impressive is the fledgling company’s year-on-year revenue growth: $2.5 million in 2013 and $11.5 million in 2014. So how are two guys from Calabasas, CA managing to compete with major players like Pizza Hut and Dominos? According to Forbes, they’re doing it by “adapting the quick and made-to-order model, championed by Chipotle and Subway, to pizza.”
For a fast-casual restaurant, Pizza Studio is competitively priced—$7.99 for an 11-inch personal pie—but its product is way more personalized than at most pizza joints. Customers choose their crust, sauce, cheese, and unlimited toppings which includes meats, vegetables, and seasoning.
What’s more, the options are good. You can build your ideal pizza on a rosemary herb or whole grain and flaxseed base, sprinkle it with feta or goats cheese, throw on three different types of peppers and nitrate-free pepperoni, and then finish it with Old Bay Seasoning or truffle salt. Those are the kinds of ingredients you’d expect at a higher-end pizzeria, and yet Pizza Studio doesn’t sacrifice affordability or speed: high-tech convection ovens mean each pie only takes two minutes to cook.
Crust options are traditional, whole grain and flax seed, rosemary herb, firecracker, and gluten-free.
Pizza Studio is part of the new generation of fast-casual restaurants, of which Chipotle was a spearhead: quick, customizable meals featuring high-quality ingredients at a relatively low price point. The company is aiming to expand to 100 locations by the end of 2015, and competitors like Pielogy and Blaze Pizza are also gaining traction, says Forbes. The assumption that fast food is junky is rapidly becoming outdated—as are the chains that continue to pile junk food on their pizzas in order to stay relevant.