The Pizza Studio, a build-your-own pizza chain that has its roots in L.A., is on track for a massive and aggressive expansion to the Bay Area, with 25 restaurants scheduled to pop up in our neck of the woods—even though it currently has only one location total to its name. The rocket fuel supplying this massive pizza expansion is venture capitalist Samit Varma, who's teamed up with Wolfgang Puck Express mastermind Ron Biskin. The duo has inked deals for 74 locations already, and are expected to add another 50 or so to their portfolio in the next couple of months. By the end of 2013, they want to have 150 restaurants in the pipeline. Though the chain hasn't disclosed the vast majority of the places where it plans to open in the Bay, they have admitted to one: at the Stonestown Galleria, where it's scheduled to open at the beginning of 2014.
The Pizza Studio's centerpiece is a self-ventilating pizza oven that can cook pies in under three minutes, giving the chain flexibility to inhabit mall food courts, enormous retail spaces, and pretty much everything in between. Patrons are exhorted to "Create Your Masterpiece™" using traditional, whole grain and flax seed, or gluten-free crusts, with toppings both standard (pepperoni, mushrooms, red onions) and esoteric (turkey pastrami, caramelized onions, Jamaican jerk seasoning). At $8 for a single-serving pizza with unlimited toppings, it's a fairly good deal, especially given the $6 "starving artists' selections" that are also an option (and presumably a way to use up leftover toppings).
The build-your-own pizza trend is a hot item in fast-casual dining right now, with Berkeley's Build Pizzeria Roma expressing a desire to expand big, and the founder of Smashburger, which recently made its debut in the Bay Area, starting up a pizza chain called Live Basil in Denver. Only time will tell if The Pizza Studio ends up becoming a household name, though Yelpers seem to be gaga for the one location currently in business.
· SoCal pizza chain plots 25 Bay Area locations [Business Times]
· Build Pizzeria Roma, Slinging Pies in Berkeley [~ ESF ~]
· The Pizza Studio [Official website]