Urban Bricks Pizza is a brand that prides itself on its edginess. Likewise, getting an "edge" on the reams of competition in pizza-land is a main mission of this growing chain's leadership.
That fact becomes pretty obvious right off the bat when you enter one of the chain's 28 locations, which feature a prominently placed lime green oven situated front-and-center like a big green egg-shaped UFO that beckons customers to "fire one up." But, that's perfectly in line with this concept's "personality," which its website describes as "edgy, outgoing and progressive."
And Urban Bricks founder and CEO Sammy Aldeeb told Pizza Marketplace that "We are not your ordinary pizza place, and we like to show it off."
Aside from a dizzying assortment of crusts, toppings and drizzles, that "showing off" also includes some remarkable furnishings that help, delight and even relax customers. Like the somewhat futuristic-looking, "hand washer/massagers" available for guests as they order their selections. Or the speedy, bottom-filling beer dispensers that seem to defy gravity. All of these items may seem to be mere useless gadgets meant only to draw customers in, but Aldeeb said they are more than just toys. They serve strategic business purposes in a pizza sector that is more competitive than ever.
Q: First off, tell us about these hand washer/massagers in your stores and how customers like them?
|Urban Bricks' hand-washer/massager|
A:At each Urban Bricks location, there is a designated handwashing station near the line to order. Insert your hands into the appropriate holes and the machine projects water, soap and sanitizer onto your hands in a way that almost feels like a massage. While cleaning, the machine lights up and creates noise that can almost [sound] like a spaceship.
Our handwashing stations are such a draw for children, and we know how hard it can be to get kids to wash their hands. But, they're also practical for all of our customers.
Pizza is eaten with your hands, so the hand washers make it extremely convenient for our customers to wash their hands before digging in. That way, they don't have to wait in line for the bathroom or go out of their way to get clean hands. Our customers really appreciate the ease of the hand-washing station.
Q: What other furnishings, gadgets and features do you use at Urban Bricks to attract customers?
A: All Urban Bricks restaurants offer beer from a bottoms-up beer machine. Simply offering local craft beers is a way to attract the 18-35 year old customer, but to do it in an intriguing way makes it even more of a draw for these customers.
The bottoms-up beer dispenser will sell more beer by simply the way that it is poured - customers want to see it over and over again. Plus, it can fill up to eight beers all at the same time, so it's extremely efficient and frees up our employees time so that they can focus on something else within the restaurant.
Additionally, our brick oven is unlike any other and gives customers something interesting to look at while waiting. The rotating oven cooks a pizza to perfection in just two minutes, so our younger guests love our quick cook time and high-quality food.
Our lime-green ovens are absolutely the focal point of our showroom, and guests look at it in awe. They love the modern, sharp exterior color contrasting with the flame-filled interior. We've heard it compared to a UFO or a spaceship. Our oven exemplifies everything Urban Bricks is about.
Q: How do you research for these types of features or do you?
|Bottoms up beer filler|
A: I am constantly on the lookout for new, smart aspects in restaurants that will create a better customer experience. Whenever I go out, I look for cool features and gadgets that I can bring to Urban Bricks Pizza.
My test subjects? My own kids! If my children love a feature of a store or restaurant, then I want to give it to Urban Bricks Pizza's guests as well.
Q: In the case of the hand massagers, that's addressing a common problem for restaurateurs of both "the wait" and even food safety concerns. Are most of these items targeted toward specific issues or do they go further than that?
A: Everything we do we want to do quickly. America is on the go now and the faster customers can get their meals, the happier they are. Urban Bricks cuts down on wait time in every way possible. The handwashing station takes away the need to visit the bathroom to wash hands. The bottoms-up beer dispenser fills up beers at an extremely fast rate while freeing up employees to complete other tasks. And the rotating oven creates a perfect pizza in just two minutes. If an error is made on an order, it can easily be corrected without really elongating the wait time.
While these aspects of Urban Bricks cut down on wait time, it also enhances customer experience. We know guests don't want to be waiting in line for their pizza, they want to get back to where they need to be or take a seat and relax. By cutting down on the preparation time of our food, we allow guests to have more time on their hands to focus on what they really want to do.
Q: Where do you think this type of "bells-and-whistles" approach to attracting customers in to a restaurant is headed in the future for your brand and the industry as a whole?
A: In order to compete in today's restaurant industry, you have to offer an experience unlike any other and impress the guests. These days, consumers come in and out of a restaurant so quickly, so it's all about getting their attention in the time that you do have with them.
However, any restauranteur knows it can be quite pricy to keep up with the emerging technology. At Urban Bricks Pizza, we try to be smart and always think about the cost/benefit of gadgets in the store.
While a handwashing station and a bottoms-up beer dispenser are more expensive upfront, it's worth it because we can churn out customers at a quicker rate with them. Our fancy gadgets and technology have a place and purpose in the restaurant that ultimately helps with efficiency and quality, so to us, it's absolutely worth it.
Flash Focus is a regular series that addresses one unusual feature at one of the many brands covered by this website. If you have a great idea for a Flash Focus subject, or any story on this site, please email Editor S.A. Whitehead at email@example.com.
Award-winning veteran print and broadcast journalist, Shelly Whitehead, has spent most of the last 30 years reporting for TV and newspapers, including the former Kentucky and Cincinnati Post and a number of network news affiliates nationally. She brings her cumulative experience as a multimedia storyteller and video producer to the web-based pages of Pizzamarketplace.com and QSRweb.com after a lifelong “love affair” with reporting the stories behind the businesses that make our world go ‘round. Ms. Whitehead is driven to find and share news of the many professional passions people take to work with them every day in the pizza and quick-service restaurant industry. She is particularly interested in the growing role of sustainable agriculture and nutrition in food service worldwide and is always ready to move on great story ideas and news tips.