When Sam Fox spawns concepts, big chains pay attention. Fox has scored funding from industry giants, including The Cheesecake Factory and P.F. Chang’s. So it stands to reason that his latest launch, full-service pizza and rotisserie concept Doughbird, which opened in March in a 4,000-square-foot Phoenix exhibition kitchen, may be a future target for chains scouting new growth vehicles. But securing investments and spinning off multiple units is never Fox’s immediate goal. “When it makes sense, it’s great to align ourselves to these bigger companies that have these resources,” he says. “It needs to happen organically.” With Doughbird, Fox’s vision is to get back into pizza in a new way.
Build-your-own meets full service
Aware of the struggle of the casual-dining segment, Fox’s team crafted Doughbird’s menu to win over the DIY crowd by extending the popular fast-casual differentiator of customization to the full-service arena. Diners have a choice of 10 sides and eight sauces to pair with rotisserie-cooked proteins such as chicken and prime rib.
Early plans for Doughbird called for an extensive off-premise program, complete with beer and wine to go. Takeout is still important to the concept, but Fox is holding off for a few months while the dine-in operation gets up to speed. Similarly, he’s making no immediate plans for Doughbird’s expansion. “Let’s make sure one works,” he says.