TOWN Brookhaven to have pizza once more
Ohio-based PizzaFire, a quick-serve build-your-own pizza concept, plans to enter the metro Atlanta market next year with a new restaurant in TOWN Brookhaven. The pizza eatery will open in the space previously occupied by another quick serve pizza restaurant, treza. Treza was the original occupant of the 3,000 square foot space and opened in late 2011 but was closed by early 2014.
PizzaFire was launched in Akron, Ohio in October 2014 and has since expanded to thirteen locations throughout Ohio with another 20 or so listed as "coming soon" on the company's website. Strangely, the Brookhaven location, which TOWN Brookhaven's twitter account announced last month would be joining the "merchant mix in 2017," is not listed on the PizzaFire website in any category.
Sean Brauser, the creator of PizzaFire, previously expanded Romeo's Pizza, once a single unit traditional mom & pop pizzeria, to a regional franchise with over 30 locations. (While named the same, Romeo's Pizza is not related to Romeo's Pizza of Johns Creek and Emory Village)
Brauser's entry into quick serve pizza comes at a time when countless quick serve pizza shops have popped up both locally and nationally. In PizzaFire's home market of northeast Ohio, Blaze Pizza, a Pasadena, California-based chain recently entered the market, helped by the star power of Akron-native LeBron James. (James opted not to renew his endorsement deal with McDonald's in 2015 and has since become a spokesperson for, in addition to an investor in, Blaze Pizza.)
Earlier this year, Technomic, a restaurant industry research firm, released its Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report which tracks year-over-year sales growth. Three of the five best performers were quick serve pizza operators with Blaze Pizza leading the pack with 205% YOY sales growth. MOD Pizza was second (up 131%) and Pieology Pizzeria was fourth (up 67%).
Brauser sets PizzaFire apart in two ways.
One, each restaurant reportedly grows their own hydroponic romaine lettuce and basil. This methodology provides patrons not only an organic offering but also a ridiculously fresh product.
The second differentiating factor for PizzaFire is that their pizza ovens rotate internally and deliver a product that is ready in three minutes. (Given treza did not utilize such an oven, this would seem to represent a significant expense if the oven must be replaced.)
PizzaFire offers 12 inch "Neapolitan style" pies in both fully customizeable varieties ( $6.49 / $7.49 / $8.49 for 1, 3, & 5 topping pies) and "specialty pies" priced between $7.49 and $8.49. The restaurant also reportedly offers a gluten-free dough option.
PizzaFire also offers assorted sides and salads. Amazingly, they even include a link to their nutrition facts on their website.
In such a competitive market, will these features be enough to make PizzaFire successful in metro Atlanta? It's tough to say for sure but given the local franchisee (believed to be Suwanee resident Daniyar Bekenov) inherits a second generation pizza restaurant that limits his capital expenditures, one can hope he succeeds.
|The former treza|
Local quick serve pizza operator Uncle Maddio's Pizza has experienced a significant reduction in its store count following months of continual closures. In a fascinating recent article in Nation's Restaurant News, Matt Andrew, the company's founder, blamed the closures on “early mover mistakes.”
The Brookhaven community recently lost Slice of Brookhaven off Dresden Drive but still has Vero Pizzeria on Dresden as well as Avellino's Pizzeria on Windsor Parkway. That being said there has not been a quick serve pizza option in Brookhaven since the closure of treza.
TOWN Brookhaven has added a number of new restaurants over the past few months including Jefe's Tacos & Tequila, Tin Can Oyster Bar, Copper Coin, and most recently Tropical Smoothie Cafe.
|The former Bonehead's|
Still, Smash Kitchen & Bar and Bonehead's both remain vacant while another "fully equipped turnkey restaurant" is currently listed for sale on The Shumacher Group's website.
Do you think PizzaFire will find success in TOWN Brookhaven? What is your favorite quick serve pizza brand, locally or that you've experienced elsewhere? What would you like to see open in the Smash and Bonehead's spaces?
Please share your thoughts below.