The fast-casual food scene has been growing exponentially in the last few years, with a slew of new concepts and chains fighting for a slice of the pie in terms of market share. Speaking of pie, it appears that pizza is ready to assume the title of fast-casual darling based on a list of the rapidly expanding restaurant chains in the category.  In a recently released list of the 50 up-and-coming small chains, three of the top five fastest growing chains are pizza joints like Blaze Pizza, Pieology, and MOD Pizza that mimic the “Chipotle model” of quick, fresh, and highly customizable products available at a modest price point.

Pizza, traditionally a takeout or delivery industry anchored by local mom and pop shops and big chain behemoths, is starting to lead the new frontier of customer expectations in regards to the cuisine they want from a fast casual spot. When pizzas can be cranked out quicker and customized to suit virtually any taste in mere minutes, it’s no wonder consumers are spending more there than for the same old burger or sandwich they previously relied on for a fast meal.

So what has likely sparked the rise of fast-casual pizza chains? It’s likely a blend of trends, consumer needs, and turning an old favorite into something that feels modern and aligned with ever-shifting consumer tastes.

As consumers demand healthier, fresher choices and look for that high-quality food to be accompanied by wallet-friendly price points, fast-casual pizza satisfies not only the craving for a perennial favorite, but also the desire to design a personalized pie that doesn’t cost too much dough. In the time it takes you to pile on as few or as many fresh, unique toppings as you please and pay, a piping hot pizza awaits you. The convenience and customization are huge selling points, but the quality of the product keeps the lines long and the cash rolling in.

While the model of using high quality ingredients to dole out hot, fresh, and customized meals in a matter of minutes isn’t exactly new, fast-casual operations like Blaze Pizza and Pieology are thinking outside of the box, literally.


Want to learn more? Read up on our Pizzeria Industry Council here.