Reporter's Notebook
PizzaRev to launch delivery service in Los Angeles

PizzaRev to launch delivery service in Los Angeles

Chalk up another one for Postmates.

Fast-casual pizza player PizzaRev is rolling out delivery in its core Los Angeles market in partnership with Postmates at some point soon.

Though the concepts in the rapidly growing fast-casual pizza niche have long said they didn’t want to compete with the massive delivery specialists like Domino’s and Papa John’s, the demand from consumers has forced their collective hand.

Jeff Zuckerman, PizzaRev co-founder and chief marketing officer, said guests have been asking for delivery for some time and the key was finding the right partner to ensure quality control. After exploring the playing field, that right partner was Postmates, he said at the NRA Show in Chicago.

“We have the most deliverable product in the world with pizza,” he said. “Our guests have been asking for it on a regular basis.”

Postmates is the third-party delivery player for McDonald’s, Starbucks and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Other fast-casual pizza brands have said they’re also looking to add delivery, now that technology can allow guests to fully customize their pies online or through mobile apps.

Of course, when it comes to delivery technology, it’s going to hard to compete with the big players. Domino’s is constantly upping the game by allowing guests to order from their cars, Smart TVs, smart watches and even via Twitter with emojis.

In the early days of fast-casual pizza, players said they’d never deliver. Such concepts were based on the notion of fully customized pizzas, cooked right in front of you in minutes. That’s what made it a better option than delivery.

Zuckerman, however, said customer demand forced their hand on delivery. “This is something that’s going to be happening, whether we’re a full-throated supporter or not,” he said.

Fortunately, he said PizzaRev’s product travels well. “Since our crust is crispier from the start, it has a better chance of arriving crispier.”

For brands like PizzaRev, the focus will remain on the in-store experience, where guests can build their own Roman-style (thin crust) individual pizzas. In fact, the chain is adding a new line of finishing sauces that customers can drizzle on their pizzas at the restaurants’ “Rev It Up” stations.

Already 20 percent to 40 percent of sales at PizzaRev comes from pick up and takeout orders and the chain offers online ordering and payment, so guests can avoid the line. A mobile app is in the works.

Perhaps most importantly, PizzaRev thought ahead in terms of handling throughput with a separate preparation line in the kitchen devoted to those incremental sales coming from outside the four walls.

Fast-casual pizza players will not likely be able to compete on cost, but Zuckerman said consumers don’t seem to be daunted by delivery charges. A typical PizzaRev pizza is about $10 to $11, and the flat delivery cost of about $5 may also include a service charge.

Eventually delivery will be added systemwide, where Postmates operates.

PizzaRev has 27 locations, with another 14 expected to open this year. Next year, the Los Angeles-based chain will add another 40, doubling in size. Unlike most in the fast-casual pizza space, the company is growing both corporate and franchise locations, with significant skin in the game.

The chain has the backing of strategic partner Buffalo Wild Wings, which is also growing the brand as a franchise operator in some markets.

Units are averaging $1.45 million in a footprint of about 2,400 square feet, though some restaurants are as small as 1,800-square feet.

Having Buffalo Wild Wings as big brother has given PizzaRev buying power that has significantly helped boost margins. Same-store sales are growing, with some units seeing 15 percent growth.

Delivery is expected to add to that significantly.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].
Follow her on Twitter @livetodineout

TAGS: Fast Casual
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