Pizza: Have it your way
A pair of Virginia entrepreneurs are dishing up a new concept for a fast casual pizza restaurant. Dave Wood, a former operator of 17 Dominos franchises in Northern Virginia, is the cofounder and CEO of Firenza. He and business partner, Dave Baer, have opened two Firenza restaurants, in Fairfax in March and in Alexandria earlier this month, and have plans for more.
In 2016, they want to expand by 15 to 20 restaurants, with as many as five of them expected to be in Virginia.
“The concept is similar to Chipotle. Instead of starting with a burrito, you start with a pizza crust, and you the customer direct the process,” says Wood.
Customers can pick from nearly 40 toppings, including six sauces, seven cheeses, nine meats and 17 veggies.
“Unlike most other fast casual pizza chains where the crusts are premade and machine-pressed, our pizza dough is made in house daily and hand-stretched to order right in front of the customers,” says Wood.
Once the pizza dough is stretched, customers can go with one of two price points: A 10-inch pizza with cheese and one topping is $6.99. Pizzas with more than one topping – be it two or 20 – cost $7.99. The pizzas are baked in an open flame, stone-hearth oven.
Other menu items include wings, meatballs and custom salads. Beverages include beer and wine.
Firenza’s Alexandria restaurant can seat 55.
According to Wood, the company began franchising efforts in September to enhance the company’s growth. The franchise fee is $40,000 for a first restaurant, with total costs, including construction, equipment, etc., $400,000 to $500,000. Industry franchises that can take over an existing space can lower costs to about $250,000, says Wood. The franchise fee drops to $25,000 for any second or additional locations.
With fast-casual pizza a multibillion-dollar industry, Firenza’s owners are certain they can make a go of their new concept. “Fifty-five percent of pizza consumers now purchase fast-casual pizza at least once per month, and Firenza is looking to capitalize on this growing demand and multiply across the country,” Baer said in a statement.