How PizzaRev Plans To Be the 'Chipotle of Pizza'
This story has been updated from May 19 with additional commentary from Buffalo Wild Wings.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) - For a two-year-old restaurant chain with just 10 stores so far, PizzaRev has a pretty clear idea of what it wants to be and how it's going to get there. The Los Angeles-based fast-casual concept is setting its sights on becoming the Chipotle (CMG - Get Report) of pizza.
Leaving aside for the moment the fact that the hugely popular burrito chain already has a pizza concept it's investing in, Pizzeria Locale, PizzaRev believes it has the wherewithal to beat Chipotle at its own game.
"It's not as though there is a big void in America, there are 74,000 pizza restaurants, but this offering is dramatically different," said PizzaRev co-founder Rodney Eckerman in a phone interview with TheStreet. "Traditionally the highest quality pizzas were a fine-dining experience, it was a sit-down experience that took a bit of time, fast pizzas ... were not personalized and what we're able to do is offer people this high-quality pizza" quickly.
"Chipotle was a game changer in their industry," Eckerman said. "They created a product that was consistent on a coast to coast, it was high quality, it was fast and it had great value, it's a great value proposition. They looked at doing one thing and doing [it] extremely well and that, very much, is our model as well."Using the same type of cafeteria line that is partially responsible for Chipotle's success, customers can choose from one of 10 combinations of PizzaRev's personal-sized 11" pizzas from The Classic, The Skinny Margarita or The Mediterranean for $7.99. Or customers can create their own for the same price (and regardless of number of toppings) using ingredients like red or white sauce, BBQ sauce, cheeses that include bleu cheese, ricotta and low-fat mozzarella and toppings such as spicy chorizo, capers or jalapenos. Pizzas are then fired in open-flame bed ovens, cooking the pizza "old-world style." Eckerman boasted that from the beginning of the line to receiving an order, it takes just seven minutes. Co-founder Eckerman and his business partner, Irv Zuckerman, retired in 2002 as co-CEO's of Clear Channel Entertainment, a division of Clear Channel Communications, which was then spun off to form Live Nation (LYV). Eckerman and Zuckerman were pulled into the PizzaRev venture by Eckerman's son, Nicholas, who came up with the concept and serves as its COO. Zuckerman's son, Jeff, is also a partner in the venture and serves as the chief marketing officer.