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Q&A with Pizza Fusion co-founder Vaughan Lazar

Pizza Fusion, a four-year-old concept featuring organic pizza prepared in eco-friendly stores, is hoping to capitalize on both consumers’ growing health consciousness and their mounting environmental concerns. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based chain is expanding through franchising, and officials expect to open 10 more stores in 2010, pushing its unit count from 19 to 29 by the end of the year. Plans call for the opening of 220 more stores by 2015. Vaughan Lazar, Pizza Fusion’s president and co-founder, discusses the developing concept.

What made you think you’d be able to franchise an organic pizza concept?
We looked at it and organic pizza [is] a niche product. The integrity of the product always came to mind. That was my biggest concern. Checks and balances were put in. We were really passionate about the brand.

Did you know that being green could be profitable?
Pizza Fusion was founded on the fact that we wanted to flip the pizza and pizza restaurant upside down, and take a holistic approach at how a restaurant operates. It was all about saving green [money]. It definitely wasn’t a marketing shtick.

Are you afraid of becoming too big to keep control of the brand? Chief executive Mark Begelman has a five-year plan to open 220 stores.
The good thing about franchising is that you have many ways to make sure the integrity is maintained. If you pay attention to all the details, like quality and customer service, you can get as big as you want.

What’s your favorite Pizza Fusion pie?
The Founder’s Pie. It has free-range chicken, Kalamata olives, red peppers and Gorgonzola cheese.


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