Danny Meyer-Backed Fast Casual Pizza Concept Transitions to Full-Service

It appears as though the Danny Meyer-backed pizza concept Martina wasn't performing as well as a fast casual concept. The New York pizzeria has transited from the fastcasual format to full-service.

The Union Square Hospitality Group, which started the fast casual success Shake Shack, closed Martina last week to complete the revamp.

The new restaurant opened back up Monday and is serving bigger portions and a new menu.

The menu includes more wine selections and a new Reuben with mortadella, artichoke slaw, and cheese.

Martina was opened in August of 2017 by the renowned chef Nick Anderer as a more affordable version of his restaurant Marta. Before the revamp, people would order at the counter then pick up their thin-crust pizzas at the counter after their buzzer went off.

Although this format has been proven successful for the better-burger chain Shake Shack, Martina has much more competition in the pizza market. Not only is it in a city known for its thinly slice pizza slices, but the pizza fast casual market is now much more saturated.

There's Blaze pizza, Mod Pizza, &pizza– just to name a few of the pizza-focused fast casuals rapidly expanding across the country.

Then Pizza's consumer Sentiment is down too. Customers are ordering pizza-less.

According to Foodable labs data, Pizza delivery is down by 18.5 percent year over year. This is partly because the quality of the pizza being delivered most of the time isn't up to customers' standard.

Will this influence guests to visit pizza fast casual concepts in store more? Or have guests developed a taste from different cuisines as more fast casual chains have emerged serving new exciting cuisines like Mediterranean food?

But USHG isn't giving up on the pizza concept, instead, the group is aiming to elevate it. Its rare for a restaurant to transition into a more formal format as the demand for on-the-go food becomes more widespread.

Do you think this revamp will pay off?

Read more about Martina's big change at "Eater" now.

Foodable Labs tracks over six million influencers and over 100 pizza chains. Want to find out what else is causing the slip in pizza Sentiment? Watch the video about the decline in pizza delivery below.

Chipotle's Sales May Be Up but its Traffic is Still Slow

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Chipotle's sales have slowly inched up by 4.4 percent in the third quarter compared to the same time period last year.

The fast casual chain's executives have said this is mostly due to the increase in the average check price. Chipotle's Chief Executive Officer Brian Niccol said that customers are responding well to the chain's new drive-thru test.

“It’s clear that customers appreciate the added convenience because these stores generate digital sales far above the national average,” said Niccol on an earnings conference call, who also said that the fast casual brand will be expanding the drive-up test to "several" more markets next year.

Niccol said while the company is also testing new menu items, it's mainly focused on enhancing its digital capabilities.

"I don't think new menu news is the primary unlock," said Niccol last Thursday. "I think it plays a role. But I think the digital access, removing friction ... is a big unlock for the Chipotle business."

Chipotle has also increased its menu pricing by 3.8 percent.

But even though sales may be up, the chain is still struggling to get those long lines of the past again. Transactions fell by 1.1 percent compared to the year earlier.

Chipotle is still recovering from major backlash for a number of food safety issues that created a media frenzy a few years ago. This paired with the competitive market has made it difficult for the brand to bounce back.

The fast casual isn't the only restaurant chain experiencing a slump in traffic though.

"McDonald’s Corp. reported earlier this week that guest counts declined again in its U.S. business, even as it managed to deliver a 2.4 percent increase in comparable sales from a year earlier. Starbucks Corp., too, has a traffic problem in its home market," writes "Bloomberg."

Read more about how Chipotle’s traffic is still down at “Bloomberg” now.

Last year, Foodable's Paul Barron explained some of the chain's missteps and also outlined how it can get reclaim its top spot in the fast casual sector. Watch the video below to see if the chain has implemented any of these tips.

Snapchat’s New App Helps Advertisers Track Users

Snapchat’s New App Helps Advertisers Track Users

A new app shows advertisers where Snapchat users frequent the most. Say hello to Snap to Store, the latest tech tool that can track where users go to shop, eat, and explore. This is big for advertisers looking to target their marketing ads within a specific region in real-time. 

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Is D.C.'s Definition of Fast Food Restaurants Accurate?

Interior of Nando's that looks more like a casual dining restaurant than fast food  | YELP

Interior of Nando's that looks more like a casual dining restaurant than fast food | YELP

The fast casual segment is the industry's game changer. Although, the industry is still defining what fast casual is– it is recognized that these restaurants are in their own category. However, according to D.C. zoning laws, most fast casuals are under the category of "fast food." This effects where fast casual restaurants are allowed to open and depending on the neighbors zoning restrictions, they have to undergo a rigorous approval process. 

Several fast casual businesses, including Nando's want to change the zoning definition of fast food. Currently as it stands, a restaurant is considered in the fast food category if customers pay for their food before they eat, if the restaurant has a drive thru, and if the food is served on paper products. Read More