As the citizens of the world sit and debate: foreign policy, what constitutes as art and whether or not we’ll ever find a replacement that has the same tactile feel of a plastic straw; there’s one thing we can all agree on, pizza. In some grand irony of the universe, pizza seems to be the great equalizer.

There has been a recent explosion of fast-casual pizza concepts that seem to be ‘spoiling the sauce’ of the larger legacy brands that have been household names for decades. From coal-fire ovens to ‘build your own’ pizzas for one flat price; operators have found a way to disrupt and innovate in a sector that had been more or less stagnant over the past decade.

Brands like Blaze Pizza and MOD have blossomed in recent years by giving consumers a fast and customizable experience that seems fresh and new. By expanding the amount of ingredients and giving the customer more choice, they have created something that feels as special to the consumer as the product is unique to them.

One can see this concept embellishing throughout the entire foodservice realm. As Chipotle’s stock price rose in the early 2010’s, we began to see a higher density of ‘build your own’ concepts across the industry. Whether it be: salads, bowls or now pizza; it seemed that everybody was trying to get in on this trend in one way or another.

How then, did this affect the legacy brands that we’ve come to know and love? As it is with anything, it’s “adapt or die” in response to consumer demands if you want to stay afloat. As a result, we’ve seen concepts such as Yum! Brand’s Pizza Hut change up their game. The company announced that they would be closing upwards of 500 stores in order to transition them into smaller, express concepts. By doing this, the chain is reducing its rent and labor costs while giving consumers a more appealing option. Pizza Hut has also been testing plant-based topping, such as a faux sausage, and has been experimenting with using a (ground-breaking) round pizza box that’s biodegradable.

Is this how these legacy brands are going to win back customers? Maybe. There’s been a push towards both vegetarian/flexitarian diets throughout the food sector in the past year. Burger King experienced incredible success with their ‘Impossible Burger’ and KFC sold out of their plant-based ‘chicken nuggets’ within hours of their release. Additionally, consumers have pushed companies to move towards more sustainable packaging and campaigns such as ‘ditch the straw’ in order to be more environmentally conscious.

The pizza industry is constantly trying new things or sparking debate over appropriate toppings (I don’t care what anybody says, pineapple is an ample topping) and it doesn’t seem like things will be slowing down any time soon. So grab a slice with a friend, get it delivered to your home by your favorite legacy brand or spend the evening tucked away in a little hovel that only the locals know about and enjoy what some consider to be mankind’s greatest invention; pizza.

Chain Store Guide’s Premier Restaurant Chain database contains 400+ chains that offer pizza as their primary menu item with nearly 3,000 contacts. The top five pizza providers alone generate over $4.45B in foodservice sales. Contact Chain Store Guide today to learn more and experience a free 7-day trial of our online leads database!