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Pizza with a twist: Fast-casual chain opening in Colorado Springs

June 16, 2015 Updated: June 16, 2015 at 4:10 am
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photo - The interior of a MOD Pizza location. Photo courtesy of MOD Pizza
The interior of a MOD Pizza location. Photo courtesy of MOD Pizza 

A new restaurant is coming to town, and its owners hope to grab a healthy slice of the ever-popular pizza market in Colorado Springs.

It may seem like a gamble in an area that already has dozens of pizza places big and small, but the CEO of the local franchisee for Seattle-based MOD Pizza says it won't be like any other pizzeria in town.

The main difference, said Scott Schooler: MOD Pizza charges customers by the size of the pie, not by the number of toppings. Think of it as the Chipotle of the pizza world - a fast casual restaurant where people scoot through a line and tell employees what ingredients they want on their pie. Once it's assembled, the pizza is baked in an 800-degree oven and is ready in three minutes, Schooler said.

"Go in, build your own pizza," he said. "They make the pizza right in front of you."

Schooler and his partners opened Colorado's first MOD Pizza in September near the Park Meadows Mall south of Denver. He said they chose Colorado Springs for their second location because it's a place where people like to go out to eat.

And they chose a site at 7747 N. Academy Blvd. because they wanted to be in a highly visible area, all the better for exposing a new brand to potential customers.

"If a brand is already established in an area, like Starbucks, it can be tucked away in a corner and still do well," Schooler said. "If you are a new brand, it is important to be in a high visibility area."

The Colorado Springs store, which will be about 2,500 square feet and have 100 seats, is scheduled to open in late August or early September. Schooler said he and his partners are waiting to get city permits, and then construction can begin.

"Right now, it is four walls sitting empty," he said.

MOD Pizza is expected to have about 25 full- and part-time employees.

A third Colorado location is in the works for Castle Rock, Schooler said.

MOD Pizza will be riding a wave of popularity in the "fast-casual" segment of the restaurant business, with Chipotle widely considered the king of the hill.

The National Restaurant Association's Forecast for 2015 predicts that sales for fast-casual restaurants will go up by 4.3 percent this year from 2014, to $201.1 billion.

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