Betting on DIY pizza

pieology customizable restaurant pizza

Giving customers plenty of ingredient choices for building a pizza can keep them happy—and coming back consistently. That’s because customizable food and beverages are one of the most effective sales drivers and growth engines today.

“Consumers place value on the ability to personalize a meal,” says Robert Byrne, manager, market insights for Technomic. “Eighty-five percent indicate they are more likely to visit a restaurant that allows for customization, and 45 percent are willing to pay more for that feature.”

Last year, Calif.-based Pieology became the first build-your-own pizza chain to crack the Technomic Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report. It raised its annual sales 230 percent from a year earlier.

Billed as “the study of custom pizza,” the Pieology concept invites guests to personalize their pie builds. Ingredient choices include mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, feta and gorgonzola cheese, house-made white, wheat and gluten-free crust, seven sauces ranging from house red to fiery buffalo and an array of meats, vegetables and “after bakes,” or finishing sauces.

Blaze Pizza, also based in California, recently opened its 100th unit, becoming the first fast-casual build-your-own pizza chain to achieve that milestone, according to Technomic. It wows patrons by giving them a choice of seven cheeses—including both shredded and fresh mozzarella—17 types of veggies, seven meats and six sauces.

Build-your-own concepts are “the sweet spot” in fast-casual, as Technomic noted in the Top 500 last year. Indeed, BYO concepts had twice the growth rate of non-BYO concepts in fast-casual—22.3 percent to 10.7 percent—even though they comprised only 22.5 percent of total concepts.

Thus whether it’s offering a choice of mozzarella, parmesan and ricotta on a personalized pizza, setting out several flavored syrups at the espresso bar or assembling multiple bread, spread and garnish options at a make-your-own sandwich station, giving patrons creative control can pay off.

And when it comes to foods that are easily customizable, 71 percent of millennials and 66 percent of Gen Z consumers say pizza is their preferred restaurant menu item, according to Technomic. Members of those generations may not dine out as frequently as baby boomers do now, but their demographic destiny is to be prime restaurant patrons for decades.

This post is sponsored by Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board


Exclusive Content


Restaurants have a hot opportunity to improve their reputation as employers

Reality Check: New mandates for protecting workers from dangerous on-the-job heat are about to be dropped on restaurants and other employers. The industry could greatly help its labor plight by acting first.


Some McDonald's customers are doubling up on the discounts

The Bottom Line: In some markets, customers can get the fast-food chain's $5 value meal for $4. The situation illustrates a key rule in the restaurant business: Customers are savvy and will find loopholes.


Ignore the Red Lobster problem. Sale-leasebacks are not all that bad

The decade-old sale-leaseback at the seafood chain has raised questions about the practice. But experts say it remains a legitimate financing option for operators when done correctly.