Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Build-A-Pizza -- How the Successful Chipotle Business Model Is Spreading [Corrected 08/20/15]

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Build-A-Pizza -- How the Successful Chipotle Business Model Is Spreading [Corrected 08/20/15]

Article excerpt

What hath Chipotle wrought?

The fast-food restaurant chain began a revolution with its truly brilliant concept: Offer a mix-and-match menu of delicious ingredients that go well together, let the customers choose which ones they want and encourage them to think that what they are eating is actually good for them.

The ingredients are fresh, grown without genetic modification and in environmentally conscious ways, and prepared in plain sight in each restaurant's kitchen. But healthful they are not: a carnitas burrito with guacamole will sock you with an astonishing 1,075 calories.

The chain has been a booming success, spawning such popular burrito-making imitators as Qdoba (my personal favorite) and Moe's Southwest Grill.

In recent years, the concept has been spreading to different kinds of fast food (or as the industry prefers, "fast casual") restaurants, too. Taz Mediterranean Street Food recently opened downtown in the MX building with a choose-your-own menu of mostly Mediterranean choices, plus tandoor chicken or beef. And Yiro/Gyro opened a couple of blocks away using chicken, gyros and falafel as its main proteins.

But now, inevitably, the concept is moving to pizza. Of course it is moving to pizza.

According to foodtabletv.com, a website for restaurant professionals, more and more pizza parlors are being built on the Chipotle-style, build-your-own-pizza model.

This isn't just asking for a pizza with half anchovies and half pepperoni. This is being able to specify everything from the type of dough (traditional, whole wheat, gluten-free) and the type of sauce (tomato, barbecue, buffalo, etc.) to an ever-increasing number of cheeses, meats and vegetables.

As the crust moves down the assembly line, you get to choose what goes on it.

The national leader in this still-new category, according to the article, is Uncle Maddio's Pizza Joint, an Atlanta-based chain with 40 locations currently in operation (none of them in Missouri or Illinois). …

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