Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pizza Fusion A Flop In Buckhead, Closing Monday 3/8

Pizza Fusion is closing their Atlanta location in Buckhead this Monday, March 8th at 9PM. Area franchisee Jeff Melnick signed on for 5 locations in metro Atlanta but it seems doubtful that will come to fruition. Opened in fall of 2008 in the street level of Astoria at the Aramore Condos on Peachtree, the restaurant struggled to carve out a sizeable niche in the area. Though I doubt there was much crossover business, Pizza Fusion opened about a block from renowned pizza maker Jeff Varasano whose pizza has won countless awards including being named best pizza in Atlanta by my readers last fall. It seemed possible that after Z Pizza closed last fall in midtown, those seeking gluten free pizza options might flock to Pizza Fusion, but that seems not to have happened. I feel as though too much emphasis was placed on their recycling, organics, and LEED certification, leaving less time to focus on and promote their pizza. While in school in Boca Raton, Florida, I had the opportunity to try their pizza which had been established in Deerfield Beach in 2006: it's not amazing but it is good. I truly feel that had Melnick selected a different location, this concept could have been successful. With the tagline "saving the Earth, one pizza at a time," a Smart car and Prius were their delivery vehicles and could be seen making deliveries as far up Peachtree as Lenox Square. The restaurant was listed for sale on various sites including Craigslist, but alas, a buyer could not be found. I said then that there would be no good ending to this concept in Atlanta, and sadly, I was right. ToNeTo Atlanta

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8 comments:

RobO said...

I live about 2 blocks from both restaurants and I have to say that I'm sorry to see Pizza Fusion close.

As an almost total vegan, I not only don't eat meat but I also reject the other animal products such as cheese.

While Pizza Fusion had wonderful cheeseless pizzas and most other most pizza places were able to make me adequate cheeseless pizzas, Varasano's refused. They said they had nothing without cheese and would not try to make something.

If only one of my local pizza restaurants were to survive, I'd vote for Pizza Fusion. Varasano's should be the one to close.

Jeff Varasano said...

Hey Rob,

I'm sorry if someone on my staff gave you that information. In fact,
we've accommodated lots of people requesting cheeseless pizzas with pizzas such as marinara, putanesca pizza (tomatoes, garlic, Kalamata olives and capers) and really any combo that people ask for. Arugula and Roasted peppers, fresh tomatoes and fresh mushrooms are also favorite toppings. I've even done wild mushrooms saute'd with wine and herbs and truffle oil. I've even let customers bring in their own toppings and worked together with them to balance them on pies, as I'm always looking to experiment with new things. The only request that we can't fulfill is a gluten free pizza, as that's a whole different process. Also I've asked that people that want something complicated (like toppings that need to be saute'd first) email me to plan something at an off peak time. So feel free to let me know what you'd like and I'd be happy work it out.

Jeff Varasano

Anonymous said...

As someone that's been looking for gluten free pizzas around Atlanta, the biggest turnoff with Pizza Fusion was the price. When I was there (shortly after it opened) the only gluten free crust available was a large, and there was an extra charge for the gluten free crust. I recall the pizza costing around $20, which seemed way too expensive for a thin crust pizza (even if it was gluten free). I was able to find more reasonable gluten free pizzas elsewhere.

Atlantan99 said...

Hello Anon,

Yes, the price seems to have been a turnoff for many. As numerous readers have expressed interest in gluten free establishments, would you mind sharing what you have found?

Thanks!

Tiffany Janes said...

Jeff - you can absolutely offer gluten-free pizzas if you choose to. There is a difference between not being able to do something and choosing not to do it.

Reactionary said...

The question is whether a restaurateur making a genuinely Italian product cares to subsidize the extremely small market segment that doesn't consume gluten. It would make very little financial sense to do so, given that you will make enough money off your gluten-consuming customers.

Tiffany Janes said...

About ten percent of all U.S. food shoppers are buying gluten-free food for at least one person in their household and it's still the fastest growing market in the food industry. Five years ago it might not have made much sense for places to cater to gluten-free diners. Today, that's hardly the case and in fact, since the gluten-free consumer controls where their gluten eating friends and family eat when they're together, we have more of an impact on the bottom line of a restaurant than one might imagine. And for the record, the best gluten-free pizzas I've had were made by REAL Italians in NYC. You can also find gluten-free pizza in Italy.

Certainly no restaurant (even a 100% gluten-free one) should rely only on gluten-free consumers but those that cater to the gf set correctly definitely reap the rewards of doing so. From mid priced places to Fifth Group, Buckhead Life and the like, gluten-free menus are rolling out faster in Atlanta than anywhere else in the Southeast. It's not because companies want to be nice - they are just trying to make money as well they should.

John said...

Hey All,
THE GREEK Gyros and Pizza in the Sweet Auburn Curb Market will very soon have completely Vegan Pizza.
We will be using Daiya Cheese and our in house veggies.
I am also looking into doing Gluten-free pizza.( Presently experimenting with dough recipes.)
Find me at www.thegreekatl.com or twitter, thegreekgyros.