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Pie Five looks past fast casual to stem sales slide

Pie Five, a pioneer of the fast-casual pizza market, is shifting away from its roots after posting a 16.2% drop in same-store sales for the fourth quarter ended June 25.

The young chain’s weak performance contributed to a $12.5 million loss for parent company Rave Restaurant Group for the full fiscal year. Rave said the results reflected $5.9 million in impairment charges and fees for terminated leases.

Rave lost about $8.9 million in the prior fiscal year.

The company closed about 18 Pie Fives earlier this year to stem losses from the concept. Openings reduced the net reduction in store count, leaving the chain with 84 restaurants in operation.

Rave said it will try to revive Pie Five by adding services that aren’t usually offered by fast-casual chains. A new prototype sells wine by the glass and bottle, as well as craft beers on tap.  

Pie Five also recently rolled delivery into 28 stores. The other 56 restaurants will adopt the service within the next six months.

Meanwhile, the new prototype and two other Pie Fives are testing chicken wings, available in five flavors. The store that sells beer and wine is generating 7% to 8% of its sales from the wings, according to Rave CEO Scott Crane. He pegged the sales contribution from craft beers at 3% to 4%.

The concept is also being expanded overseas.

The fast-casual chain is the younger of Rave’s two pizza concepts. The older one, 221-unit Pizza Inn, posted a 0.2% gain in comps for the fourth quarter and a 0.1% increase for the full fiscal year.

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