Last year, locally-owned and operated Fired Pie, exploded on the dining scene in the Valley as the first fast-casual pizza restaurant. Today, the eatery announces plans to double their store locations by fall of 2014, going from four to eight. The fast-casual movement has continued to see an upward trend. For the fifth consecutive year it has far surpassed that of every other restaurant segment, according to research from The NPD Group.
“We are responding to the demand of all the pizza lovers in the community,” said Fred Morgan, one of the restaurants three founders. “We are listening to our customers and opening up more locations.”
The restaurant group has opened its fifth location off Greenway-Hayden Loop and Scottsdale Road in North Scottsdale. A downtown location is set to open at the Collier Center off 2nd and Jefferson streets and another location will open in downtown Tucson on the corner of Congress & Broadway. The eighth location will open in Ahwatukee Foothills at the Towne Center complex off Ray Rd and I-10.
On Wednesday, June 25th, Fired Pie will be giving away one free pizza or salad (per person) at their newest location off Greenway-Hayden Loop and Scottsdale Road. This is for dine-in only. The fast casual pizza restaurant is giving out the free entrees all day June 25th (at this specific location) in honor of the opening of their fifth restaurant. The newest store opens today and is located at 15425 N Scottsdale Rd #100 in Scottsdale.
“We are excited to launch in a new market as we feel there is a lot of growth in Tucson,” said Co-Founder Doug Doyle. “We are excited to expand to the southern half of the state.”
Fired Pie allows you to take on the role of chef by picking and choosing your own type of dough, sauce and toppings. The sophisticated-yet-affordable pizzeria also offers build-your-own salads. The concept behind the restaurant was born from the minds of Morgan, Doyle and Rico Cuomo. The trio worked together for more than 15 years, rising through the ranks of California Pizza Kitchen. They found themselves brainstorming about the art of making a great pizza pie: dough, sauce, cheese, fresh herbs, meats, sourcing local and organic ingredients—and knew with the right precision, they would create and build a pizza empire.
“On any given night you will see one of us working behind the counter,” says Cuomo. “We are hands on and proud of what we do and what we have been able to accomplish thus far.”
Fast casual pizza is on the rise. For proof, look no further than Fired Pie, the build-your-own pizza and salad concept created by Rico Cuomo, Doug Doyle and Fred Morgan, who met while working together at California Pizza Kitchen. Their business exploded from nothing into four locations in less than eight months.
“We decided to take the jump and open our own restaurant,” Morgan said, “and that’s how we’ve come to be here.”
Cuomo, Doyle and Morgan all opened up 80-100 restaurants during their careers, Morgan said, so when it came to opening a business, they knew what they were doing.
When looking for locations, the three owners sought out second-generation restaurants, restaurants that had already been built so that they could easily take over and build a new location. They bought two such restaurants and are leasing two as well.
At those second-generation locations, everything that is needed for a fully functional restaurant is already installed, Morgan said, making it at least 50 percent cheaper to open up a new location.
“We had limited money and knew we wanted to get several locations open quickly,” Morgan said. “(Buying second-generation restaurants) was the quickest way to do that.”
That strategy allowed the partners to open up a new Fired Pie in just two weeks and are utilizing the cost-effective plan to open a new location every 90 days. Morgan said Fired Pie hopes to have 15-20 restaurants open within two years. While the three men have financed the venture with their own money, they are looking for a financial partner to help fund expansion, Doyle said. Depending on who becomes their financial partner, franchising Fired Pie could become a possibility, but franchisment isn’t in the owners’ immediate plans.
What is in their plans is to capitalize on the popularity of fast-casual dining and on a product they know: pizza. The owners said they saw a demand for fresh, customizable pizza and seized the opportunity to create their own niche.
“We deliver an awesome product at an awesome price in a quick amount of time,” Cuomo said.
Cassidy Turley signed three leases at Park Central Mall, 3110 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix. New to the mall is Jimmy John’s, which leased 1,658 square feet, and Fired Pie, an Italian and pizza restaurant, which took over 2,500 square feet previously occupied by Fusilli’s. The third lease was a renewal by Jamba Juice for 1,036 square feet in the mall. Vice President Brent Mallonee with Cassidy Turley’s Retail Group represented the owners, Special Servicer LNR Partners, LLC (John Mitchell, Vice President, REO Asset Management) of Miami Beach, FL. Brian Polachek SRS Real Estate Partners represented Jimmy John’s.
The current ±333,610-square-foot Park Central mall was built over the course of four decades, between 1957 and 1980. The current property was converted from a retail only property to a mixed-use retail and office complex in 1997. The property is situated in the heart of the Midtown submarket, with over 1.7 million square feet of office space, and is easily accessible via a METRO Light Rail to the works in the Downtown North and South submarkets which include over 17.5 million square feet of office space.
Here’s the beautiful thing about Fired Pie: In less time than a typical commercial break, the staff at Fired Pie can make you a fresh pizza that suits your taste and specifications.
Fired Pie is the latest Chipotle-inspired build-your-own-meal, fast-casual dining concept to hit the Valley. The creation of veteran restaurateur Fred Morgan — the former CEO of Oregano’s — and partners Doug Doyle and Rico Cuomo, Fired Pie’s pizzas take three minutes to bake in a brick oven after customers choose their sauce, cheese, meats, vegetables and herbs.
“The fast-casual concept is really exploding,” Morgan said. “What we’ve been able to do here is create a concept that delivers high-quality gourmet pizza at a cost and convenience that appeals to the customer.”
During a recent visit to Fired Pie, that concept created a taste sensation.
We opted to try a pizza and the Steak & Blue, one of Fired Pie’s signature salads. Signature pizzas include Hawaiian barbecue with barbecue sauce, mozzarella, Canadian bacon, pineapple and cilantro; meaty Italian with tomato sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, salami, capicola and sausage; and tomato basil with two types of mozzarella, tomato, basil and garlic. We chose to build our own pizza with tomato sauce, pepperoni and fresh mozzarella.
Pizzas and salads are $7.75, regardless of the number of toppings.
During our visit, both dishes were exceptional. I grew up in an Italian family in New York, eating amazing homemade pizzas that my Italian grandmother spent all day preparing, so I am very discriminating when it comes to Italian food. But I can honestly say that Fired Pie’s pizzas match or exceed the quality of other Valley pizza restaurants, and they even give my grandmother a run for her money. Sorry, Grandma. The quality of the ingredients far exceed the expectations one would have from a high-end Italian restaurant, let alone a fast-casual restaurant. But Fired Pie takes that fast-casual concept to a whole new level.
The great thing for me is that one of Fired Pie’s location is at Park Central Mall, which is right across the street from my Central Phoenix office. And customers are already lining up to take advantage of the three-minute cooking time that makes a Fired Pie pizza a healthy lunch option for downtown workers.
If you do decide to get off the healthy train for a moment, words cannot adequately express the mouth-watering deliciousness of the Fired Pookie, Fired Pie’s soft-baked chocolate chip cookie topped with vanilla ice cream that only costs $3.
Trust me on this one. If Fired Pie doesn’t have you at pizza, they’ll hook you by Pookie.
Fired Pie has locations at 3049 W. Agua Fria Freeway, Deer Valley Towne Center, Phoenix; 3110 N. central Ave., Phoenix; and one coming soon to Chandler.
For more information, visit firedpie.com.