The Top Fast Casual Pizza Concepts so far for 2016

The Top Fast Casual Pizza Concepts so far for 2016

By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large

Let’s face it, pizza will never go out of style. It’s been a consumer favorite for what feels like forever. But it really got its start in the US in the 1900s, following WWII when it quickly became a staple in America after soldiers missed the pies they had while stationed in Italy. 

Today, families across America still have “pizza night” and when there is a recession, the pizza market only continues to strive. This is because pizza is a consistently delicious, comforting and cost-effective option for consumers.

In this $40 billion industry, there are about three billion pizzas sold in the US every year.

The beloved pizza has been the focus of millions of casual-dining and quick-serve restaurants for many years. But within the last ten years, fast casual has taken the restaurant industry by storm. The fast casual format certainly suits pizza. Pizza is fast, inexpensive and customizable. 

That’s why fast casual pizza concepts are on the rise. 

Let’s take a look at the top five restaurant chains thriving in this segment. This ranking isn’t editorially based, instead we have pulled consumer social data from the Restaurant Social Media Index (RSMI.) These are the concepts with the highest overall ranking– a score based on sentiment, influence, engagement, location-based actions and mobile engagement. 

MOD Pizza Sentiment Score: 91.02 | Overall Score: 453.08

With over 110 locations in 16 states, this build-your-own pizza concept announced plans to double its store count in March by the end of this year, after raising $32 million in equity funding. The brand’s unit number tripled in 2015 and the brand had a same-stores growth of 12.4% at the end of last year.

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Is Fast Casual Pizza the Next 'Chipotle'?

Is Fast Casual Pizza the Next 'Chipotle'?

By Amelia Levin, Industry Analyst Editor

Pick your pie. Choose your sauce. Choose your toppings. Fire away. 

The “Chipotle Effect” has officially hit the fast casual pizza sub-segment with artisan-style, build-your-own, customizable pizzas made using high-quality ingredients. And this category shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. 

According to research firm Technomic, fast casual pizza had the largest annual-sales gain of 22% in 2014. Store count growth, which increased 27%, has driven much of this sub-segment’s growth, not unlike the acceleration of “better burgers” in the last five years. During the next five years, at least 2,000 fast casual pizza stores are projected to open. 

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Why Pizza is the Next Fast-Casual Segment Primed for Growth

Why Pizza is the Next Fast-Casual Segment Primed for Growth

By Technomic's Darren Tristano, Foodable Industry Expert

With more than 62,000 units and $35 billion in sales annually in the U.S., is limited-service pizza a growth segment? What about the full-service pizzeria chains and independents? It may not be about the pizza. It may be more about the speed of service, convenience and the freshness of the pizza. Following the proliferation of better burgers and better sandwiches, now comes better pizza.

Before jumping to conclusions, it might be best to define fast-casual pizza, consider the pros and cons and, ultimately, get a better idea of what is driving this trend and where it may be headed.

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