In the past few years, while the burger is still a solid choice, pizza is the new, popular kid on the scene.
There was a time not that long ago when burritos were the most synonymous food with fast casual restaurants. Then the “better burger” hit the scene. Whether consumers wanted a burger smashed and served with a side of peanut-oil-fried French Fries or a healthier take on the classic American dish, there was always something to suit even the most particular of taste buds.
When thinking about why Raffaele Esposito’s 130-year-old invention is the ultimate chameleon for restaurant operators, consider the following…
- Better than delivery OR making it at home: Pizza is one of most accessible dishes around, and yet we all crave a better solution. Delivery options can be sub-par (at best), and making it at home defeats the purpose of convenience. Pizza in the fast casual space is the perfect antidote. Customers have a bevy of toppings at their disposal with the appeal of eating out and the price benefit of fast casual.
- Allows for creativity: Pizza is the ultimate landscape to flex that culinary muscle. Operators and customers alike can provide options that push the envelope (think choices like prosciutto and fig). As tastes become more sophisticated, so can the toppings. Remember when the Hawaiian was considered avant-garde?
- Low food costs: The basics of pizza are always the same: crust, sauce, cheese and toppings. This makes it easy for purchasing and sourcing ingredients. And, given that many of these ingredients are relatively inexpensive, food costs remain low. But when offering premium ingredients like fresh mozzarella, shrimp, gluten-free crust, truffles, kale and salami, it’s totally acceptable to charge a premium. You get what you pay for – literally.
- Something for everyone: Unlike many single-cuisine restaurants, the versatility of pizza rules out the veto. Everyone in the family can find something to love at a pizza joint. And for anyone who has tried to get children and spouses on the same culinary page, this is a major win!
- The familiar goes fast casual: Chipotle and Subway pioneered the idea of adding ingredients to your meal in real time. Pizza concepts have followed their lead by allowing customers to take that familiar process and applying it to pizza. The ability to micro-customize a pizza as it’s made puts control in the customers’ hands and ensures a good experience.
Just when you think the world’s most perfect food – pizza – couldn’t get any better, fast casual takes it to the next level. Now, you can get a gourmet, delicious pie in short order. With no more sub-par delivery or making a mess at home, it’s no surprise that pizza is the new (old) darling.
Sean Baker has 18+ years marketing the restaurant industry. He is the President/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency located in Boulder, CO.