The Subway restaurant brand has been quietly building a new pizza concept that reflects the made-to-order format increasingly popular in the fast-casual segment. The concept, Mama DeLuca’s Pizza, is currently co-located with Subway locations, and the company sees big opportunities to usher the concept into c-stores, reports Abbie Westra for CSP Daily News.
“We started this made-to-order, made-in-front-of-you design a little over two years ago,” Timothy Price, brand manager for Mama DeLuca’s Pizza, said. Through the years, the company has refined the concept even further by reducing the cost of investment, perfecting a “take or bake” crust and creating a nearly plug-and-play franchise package that leverages existing Subway space, product and labor.
The required service area is about a nine-foot section of counter space. Fixtures consist of refrigerated rails, a buffet warmer, a dough press, and a countertop impinger oven. The decor package includes an illuminated awning, sneeze guards, and a finished counter. The menu consists of pizzas, calzones, breadsticks, and boneless wings. Customers choose toppings just as they do sandwiches at Subway–customized to order. They can then choose to have the pizza baked in the store or take it home to bake–what Mama DeLuca’s has trademarked as “Take or Bake.”
The dough was a crucial piece to Mama DeLuca’s success–and is evidence of the importance of Subway as a sister brand, said Price. Initially, dough was made from scratch, which elevated investment costs. So the company went to its Subway bread provider and asked for a dough that had the take-or-bake capability along with consistency.
The result was a dough ball that goes through the same slack-and-retard process as Subway’s bread. Likewise, pizza toppings have the same prep specs as those at Subway, making for efficient labor. The cross-utilization of ingredients makes for unique items such as a breakfast pizza with Southwest chipotle sauce, eggs, spinach, jalapenos, onions, peppers and tomatoes.
“I think it’ a natural for c-stores,” said Dick Meyer, president of Meyer & Associates, who has consulted with Subway. He points to the ability to leverage the established consumer confidence in the Subway brand while capturing customers who don’t want to eat a sandwich every day of the week.
Investment ranges from $25,000 and $35,000. The concept is treated like a franchise, with royalties and support from Subway. Projected growth is based on existing distribution centers, with focus on Arkansas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Ohio. (CSP Daily News: www.cspnet.com)