Consumer Trends

Looking to open a pizza place? Go to Hawaii

The state has the lowest penetration of pizza places and the highest prices. And the state with the highest-rated local pizzas? Try New Hampshire.
Pepperoni is still America's favorite pizza topping. | Photo: Shutterstock

Have an idea for a pizza concept but no inkling as to where to try it? Head as far west from the sauce and crust meccas of New York and Chicago as you can, suggests new research from the restaurant tech company Otter, Otter.

The data show that the least-penetrated pizza market in the U.S. is Hawaii, where the relative scarcity of established purveyors has raised the average pizzeria order to $48.50.

And if that seems like a jump too far, your next best bet would be California, according to the research. As in Hawaii, pizza places make up less than 2% of the Golden State’s restaurant count, even though the pie specialists there enjoy an average tab of $40.10.

Nationwide, Otter found, pizzerias account for roughly one of every 20 restaurants, or 5.8% of all eating places as of last year. That’s nearly a 5% gain from 2022.

Prices, though, are a different matter. The state with the lowest average spend per order is Mississippi, though with a not-so-rock bottom tab of $21.60.

The level of competition has apparently proven a good thing for consumers. The average quality rating of the shops is 4.43 out of 5 stars.

In a finding likely to infuriate the pizza chauvinists of Chicago, New York or Detroit, Otter discovered that local pies were rated highest in quality by the residents of New Hampshire, Maine and Wisconsin.

The worst pizzas can be found in Wyoming, South Carolina and Montana, according to the data.

Although a correlation wasn’t drawn in the research, pizza’s stellar national rating may be why 93% of Americans eat pizza at least once a month, with 350 slices being munched at any given time.

That’s around the clock. Otter found that 36% of U.S. consumers view pizza as a perfectly acceptable breakfast food.

Perhaps less surprising are the toppings Americans prefer on their pizzas. The traditional favorite, pepperoni, came up as Number One in Otter’s ranking, figuring into 38.8% of all pizza orders. Next were chicken (requested in 19.6% of orders), other meats (10%) and pineapple (4.7%).

The figures were crunched by Otter to coincide with Pi Day, or March 14, the tongue-in-cheek celebration of pizza in all its shapes, sizes and forms. One of Otter’s core products is an AI-powered order-taking system.

The company’s researchers apparently couldn’t hide their personal preferences when it comes to pizza. Despite the state rankings of pizza by quality, their report states, “New York may have the best pizza.”

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Red Lobster gives private equity another black eye

The Bottom Line: The role a giant sale-leaseback had in the bankruptcy filing of the seafood chain has drawn more criticism of the investment firms' financial engineering. The criticism is well-earned.


Beverage chains are taking off as consumers shift their drink preferences

The Bottom Line: Some of the fastest-growing chains in the U.S. push drinks, even as sales at traditional concepts lag in growing delivery and takeout business. How can traditional restaurants get in on the action?


Brands need to think creatively as the industry heads into a value war

The Bottom Line: Giving customers meal options they can afford will be key to generating traffic this year. But make sure those offers can generate a profit.


More from our partners