Chipotle launches fast casual pizza concept

Dec. 18, 2013

While many new top-your-own concepts expand throughout the country touting themselves as the "Chipotle of pizza," there is now an actual "Chipotle of pizza."

Chipotle Mexican Grill announced that it has partnered with restaurateurs Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson to launch a new concept called Pizzeria Locale. The first restaurant is located in Denver and is based on a full-service pizzeria by the same name located in Boulder, Colo. Pizzeria Locale opened its first fast casual location in partnership with Chipotle in May and is exploring options for second and third locations in Denver.

Pizzeria Locale's menu includes 10 pizzas, four American classics, or customer-created combinations from a selection of ingredients presented in an interactive service line. According to a news release, pizzas are then fired in a high-temperature pizza oven that bakes the pizzas in less than 2 minutes. The restaurant also serves salads and sides including prosciutto and meatballs. Red or white Italian wine is available on tap.

The original Pizzeria Locale in Boulder opened in 2011 and was created by Frasca Food and Wine founders Stuckey, a master sommelier, and executive chef Mackinnon-Patterson. The full-service restaurant is inspired by traditional pizzerias in Naples, Italy. The new Denver restaurant has similar features, with a Chipotle-like service format.

"Bobby and Lachlan are extraordinary restaurateurs who truly understand what it takes to provide an exceptional dining experience," Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle, said in the release. "I have known them for years and I thought their pizzeria in Boulder presented the perfect opportunity to collaborate. Opening Pizzeria Locale using a model similar to Chipotle allows us to make extraordinary pizza, made with high-quality ingredients accessible to everyone."

Pizzeria Locale's design features dark woods, white tiled floors and walls, marble accents on tables and the pizza-making station, a special dough room that holds dough at 72-degrees and a custom-developed pizza oven.

"(Ells) has been a friend for 10 years, and for many of those years we have talked about collaborating on something. With Pizzeria Locale, we found a project we were all passionate about and we couldn't be happier than to have a partner in Chipotle that shares our vision of making our pizza accessible to more people," Patterson said. "Through this partnership, we can continue to run Pizzeria Locale with the same energy and passion we've always had, but can also look to Chipotle to help with some of the challenges that can become distracting for a restaurateur."

Pizzeria Locale joins ShopHouse as an additional concept that provides future growth opportunities for Chipotle. Chipotle currently operates six ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen restaurants in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with additional restaurants opening in the coming months.

"While both Pizzeria Locale and ShopHouse are exciting concepts, it's important to remember that our growth will continue to be driven for the foreseeable future by expanding the Chipotle brand within the U.S.," Ells said.

The company plans to slowly grow Pizzeria Locale to find the right service model. Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson's other ventures, Frasca Food and Wine and the original Pizzeria Locale in Boulder, Colo., are not part of this partnership and are not affiliated in any way with Chipotle.

Read more about concept growth.

Topics: Franchising & Growth , Marketing / Branding / Promotion , Operations Management

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