PizzaRev-olution Uses Quality Roma and Bacio Ingredients for Competitive Edge
Nicholas Eckerman’s first job was cooking at age 15 in a bowling alley. “It was bowling alley food and I loved it; I was a foodie right from the start.”
Eckerman may not have known it back then, but he was experiencing his first taste of fast casual food. Eckerman is Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of Los Angeles-based PizzaRev, custom-made pizzas, ready in three minutes. The diners choose their dough – with gluten-free an option - and their sauce, including a savory organic marinara, a creamy white alfredo, or a spicy-sweet – and their toppings –with 40 ingredient choices. The PizzaRev staff assemble the 11-inch thin and crispy pie and pop it in the 900-degree oven for three minutes. No matter the number of toppings selected, the price is the same at $7.99.
Competition in the pizza fast casual marketplace is heating up, with several newcomers jockeying for position. But, says Eckerman, “It’s our quality ingredients that put us head and shoulders above the rest.” Those ingredients include Roma brand foods and Bacio cheese. “We love our relationship with them. They’ve been incredibly supportive.” Performance Foodservice is PizzaRev’s distributor as they move into locations across the country.
Although pizza is the main focus of PizzaRev, the restaurants also offer salads, desserts, beer and wine in a comfortable modern setting of recycled materials, glass and steel. “No red checkered tablecloths,” laughs Eckerman.
The business is a dual father-son family affair with an executive team that includes Nicholas and his father Rodney Eckerman; Rodney’s long-time business partner Irv Zuckerman and Zuckerman’s son Jeff. Together they form a powerhouse team of Fortune 500 operating experience and high-profile restaurant management. “We saw the trend towards fast casual,” says Eckerman, “and we saw a lack of companies in the pizza space and the need for a high quality pizza.” The concept was able to move ahead once the high capacity, high temperature stonebed ovens came on the market, able to cook a number of pies at once in a short span of time. “The oven was a game-changer,” he says.
PizzaRev started with three California locations, but in 2013, it joined in a strategic partnership with Buffalo Wild Wings, a move that was selected as the top investment ‘Deal of the Year’ by Franchise Times magazine. Presently PizzaRev operates ten corporate restaurants, one franchise location, and has additional franchises under development in Minnesota, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Texas, Orange County and San Diego.
With such fast and furious growth, it’s no wonder that PizzaRev is an important part of the pizza revolution. “It’s a reinventing of a segment – like in the burger market,” says Eckerman. “It’s about the individualization of food - no compromise. It’s custom-made the way you want it.”