Pie Squared resizes the typical pizza joint

Nov. 5, 2013 | by Natalie Gagliordi

At just 200 square feet, the footprint of the Pie Squared restaurant concept is purposefully minimal. The brainchild of Global Test Kitchen and the design group DYNAMIK, Pie Squared aims to satisfy the fast-paced needs of the tech generation with a fast casual (yet space agnostic) design.

The Pie Squared concept specifically targets non-traditional locations like airports, malls and building lobbies, as its "kit of parts" design can be assembled and deconstructed in 4-foot segments. The concept was recently named winner of the 2013 Foodservice Pioneering Concept and will be built into a live-working scaled exhibit during the upcoming International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show at New York City's Jacob K. Javitz Center from Nov. 9-12.

PizzaMarketplace.com recently caught up with DYNAMIK founder Melanie Corey-Ferrini to gain insight into why the pint-sized restaurant concept set its sights on the pizza space — and how the company plans to differentiate not only on scale, but also on taste.

PizzaMarketplace.com: How does the concept work, specifically?

Corey-Ferrini: We have eight signature pies that will vary depending on location and geographic preferences. Then, we have a build-your-own pizza where you: 1) select your pizza crust — white, whole wheat, cornmeal or gluten-free (all with ancient grains); then 2) select your sauce — hot white chia, red acai, olive oil and goji berry and Mascarpone for the sweet and breakfast pizzas; then 3) select your toppings — savory or sweet (we have four caramel sauces for the sweet or sweet-minded) — lots to choose from — and voila — the pizza is ready in under 5 minutes.

PizzaMarketplace.com: What type of operators is the business trying to attract?

Corey-Ferrini: The concept will work for new or experienced. New, with regard to low equipment expertise and ready to go recipes. Experienced, with regard to ability to roll-out the concept to a number of different locations — and producing a high level healthy and competitive product.

PizzaMarketplace.com: Why the decision to focus on pizza?

Corey-Ferrini:Pizza is universal (and my love of pizza) is why the focus. The ability to have people able to eat healthy and fast is my inspiration. And we like to say 'It is hip to be square' — as our pizzas are square shaped — with the visual elegance of a unique bakery item.

With our proprietary gluten-free, cornmeal and whole wheat crusts, as well as signature four sauces, most people with dietary restrictions can now each pizza as well. We like to say that our pizza is 'Good and it is good for you.' We touch on a variety of menu themes from European, to American, to Latin, to Indian. We have a 'Make your pizza a salad' option — where any of our toppings can go on top of Arugula, Romaine, or Frisee. Our sauces and crusts are being developed for retail sale as well, thereby extending the brand into stores.

And, our concept is a breakfast, lunch and dinner concept, with pizzas and toppings for every part of the day.

PizzaMarketplace.com: What type of equipment is included in the design? Willthe limited spacing affect menu size?

Corey-Ferrini: We selected the Ovention Oven since it can cook our pizzas in under 5 minutes. Also, it is an all-in-one piece of equipment, so we can limit the amount of equipment necessary for this concept. And it is a hoodless concept as well, therefore providing more options for space location. Our menu is very diverse and was not limited at all by space. We see this as a typical trend in the marketplace to work with smart technology equipment that allows a multitude of menu items to be cooked with one piece of equipment.

PizzaMarketplace.com: What type of locations are you targeting with P2 specifically?

Corey-Ferrini: The beauty of P2 is that it can go into malls, airports, lobbies as a kiosk concept OR be dropped into brick-and-mortar locations.

PizzaMarketplace.com: Operators get a "design kit" to assemble the location? How long is the process?

Corey-Ferrini: We are looking at many avenues to launch P2, and are open to long-term or short-term partnerships. We are either looking at partnering with a company, where we would then create the design kits for each location and the company would operate and execute the locations. We could be kept on to assist with design and recipes. Or we would sell the concept idea to a group to then easily franchise this ready-to-go concept.

PizzaMarketplace.com: What technology is included?

Corey-Ferrini: We have been researching POS and marketing options that are robust and allow people to order offsite and pick-up.

PizzaMarketplace.com: What is the cost? ROI?

Corey-Ferrini: We are working up the ROI, but the capital cost expenditure for the kiosk or brick and mortar build-out would be $85,000 to $150,000, depending on location. Procurement of the concept from us would be additional, as well as other fees. We are targeting a similar ROI to other fast casual concepts — but we are a more unique, healthy concept with a modern experience targeting a range of ages and demographics.

PizzaMarketplace.com: Where will this concept first appear?

Corey-Ferrini:That is yet to be determined depending on whom we work with.

PizzaMarketplace: What are your expansion goals?

Corey-Ferrini:P2 is meant to first start in urban or suburban West Coast or East Coast-type locations. The expansion would really depend on the group that takes on P2 — so that eating healthy in a fast casual way (we hope) takes on the U.S. and other countries by storm.

Read more about food and beverage.

Topics: Equipment & Supplies, Franchising & Growth, Operations Management, Restaurant Design / Layout, Sustainability

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