WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A better way of experiencing pizza is sweeping the nation. By mid-2014, residents inside and outside the Beltway will find out why. Pie Five Pizza Co., the nation's leading fast casual pizza chain, announced today that it has awarded 38 franchise units to ALC Hospitality, a restaurant management company owned by Alyse Cohen, who will bring the trend-setting concept to Northern Virginia, Southern Maryland and the District of Columbia. At Pie Five, guests can choose from more than a million combinations of handcrafted pizzas and a variety of specialty pie choices prepared in less than five minutes on one of four crusts. The rapidly expanding chain is capitalizing on growing consumer demand for fresh dining options and artisan pizzas in stylish environments without the wait. Cohen, a savvy restaurant owner/operator that grew up in the hotel/hospital industry, identified Pie Five after doing extensive research on the rapidly growing fast casual restaurant industry. "There's no doubt that the fast casual space is hot, because it's perfect for on-the-go consumers as well as for families that want to go out for a great meal without breaking the bank," said Cohen. "I chose to pursue the Pie Five concept because of the superb quality and flavor of its pizzas, its streamlined operational and build-out process, and the fantastic management team behind the brand." Cohen, a Georgetown graduate who grew up in Frederick County, recruited Dan Stevens to be the management arm of the team. The 35-year veteran of the restaurant and hospitality industry owns Stevens Management, which consults on several restaurant projects and is partners in two of the top-performing locations in the Houlihan's system. "Alyse is a very talented professional that has done her homework and has an excellent vision for introducing and growing the Pie Five brand in the Washington, DC area," said Madison Jobe, chief development officer for Pie Five. "Dan adds a wealth of operating experience and knows the importance of delivering a consistent, high-quality product to every guest, every time. We're very pleased to be teaming with the ALC Hospitality team as they take the Nation's Capital by storm."