Fast-casual pizzerias, the kind that let you build your own pizza and have it ready to eat in three minutes or less, are popping up throughout Arizona.
Tucson alone has seen three fast-casual restaurant open since early August — two of them located across the street from the University of Arizona campus and the third a couple miles away. Pieology from California opened its first Arizona restaurant in Tucson on Oct. 1 and one more chain is about to make inroads into the state.
Across the state, 12 fast-casual pizza restaurants have opened and another, Blaze Pizza from California, plans to expand to Phoenix.
Fast-casual pizzerias allow diners to choose their crust, sauce, cheese and unlimited toppings. An 11-inch pie runs $7-$8 on average.
“It’s a good price and a really great value,” said Cameron Capara, a customer at the recently opened Pizza Studio near the University of Arizona in Tucson.
“People love to pick and see with their senses,” said Tucson Pizza Studio owner Trace Biskin, a UA graduate and former UA football player. “There’s no longer that wall between (cooks and customers).”
Joyce Sinclair, who co-owns Tucson-born Pionic Pizza, said she thinks customers are moving towards fast-casual because they are busy and want something quick and easy.
“You can come in while you’re working, grab your pizza or pasta or salad and you’re out of here in minutes,” Sinclair said, adding that people are excited about the creative aspect of trying different combinations of toppings and crust.
Phoenix and Tucson are the only cities in Arizona that have these restaurants, but Biskin and Sinclair said they aren’t shying away from expanding throughout the state.
“We’re not saying no to any city,” Biskin said.
Sinclair said she thinks fast-casual is completely different from traditional pizzerias and both can co-exist.
“I don’t see them as our competition and they don’t see us as their competition. It’s just a different category,” she said.
“It’s not like I’m not gonna go to those other (pizza) places,” he said, noting that he has been eating at Pizza Studio nearly everyday since it opened in early August.
In addition to its Tucson location, Pizza Studio is at the Cityscape complex in Phoenix.
[learn_more caption=”Pizza Explosion! The following chains have opened up fast-casual pizza restaurants in Arizona:” state=”open”]
• Pizza Studio: Phoenix and Tucson http://pizzastudio.com/locations
• Fired Pie: Phoenix, plans to open in Tucson http://firedpie.com/contact.html
• My Pie: Phoenix http://www.pizzayourway.com/
• Pionic Pizza: Tucson http://pionicpizza.com/location/
• Pieology: http://www.pieology.com/locations/
• Blaze Pizza: http://www.blazepizza.com/[/learn_more]
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