PizzaRev, once a rising star of the fast-casual pizza sector, has permanently closed more than half of its units in the last year and currently has just 13 stores in operation in the U.S., according to local media reports and a Restaurant Business review of the chain’s locations.
The Southern California-based chain recently closed eight restaurants in Los Angeles County, leaving just two stores there. Last month, it shuttered all three of its restaurants in Las Vegas. Eight additional units remain open in California, along with one in South Dakota, one in Louisiana and one in Virginia.
The brand closed three restaurants in Memphis in 2019, as well as one in Jackson, Tenn., in January and one store in Round Rock, Texas, in April. Units in Deer Park, N.Y., and Turlock, Calif., are currently listed as “temporarily closed.”
PizzaRev had been shedding units even before the pandemic. It had 44 restaurants in 2016 but fell to 36 stores in 2018 and 32 locations in 2019, according to data from Restaurant Business sister company Technomic.
Fast casuals that were not prepared to shift to off-premise business will have a hard time succeeding in the current environment, said Melissa Wilson, a principal with Technomic.
In addition, PizzaRev had a scattershot approach to growth, Wilson said.
"They have a lot of cities with one location," she said. "This approach to geographic expansion (as opposed to building your expansion in adjacent markets/states) creates challenges for those franchise locations, as there are not enough locations in a market to generate strong awareness of the brand or a strong advertising/marketing presence.
"This pandemic and dine-in closures has undoubtedly pushed underperforming locations (if company owned), or undercapitalized franchisees, into closing their locations and we unfortunately expect to see more of this this year."
An email sent by RB to PizzaRev’s press office bounced back as undeliverable. Several emails to other PizzaRev executives were unanswered. A call to the chain’s support center in Westlake Village, Calif., was met with an automated message saying no one was available to take the call.
The company has noted the closures on responses to customer posts on social media, however. In one post, a PizzaRev representative replied, “We are bummed about it as well. Definitely a hard decision. We appreciate the support.”
In other responses, the chain noted the business impacts of COVID-19 as the reason for recent closures.
PizzaRev’s sales fell 12.3% in 2019, to $40.8 million, compared to the previous year, according to Technomic data.
Buffalo Wild Wings invested in the chain in 2014, when it had just three locations. But the wing chain sold PizzaRev three years later to Chicago-based Cleveland Avenue, a venture capital firm headed by former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson. PizzaRev had more than 50 restaurants at the time, and 200 under development.
“This is more than an investment; this is a partnership,” Thompson said at the time. “Our mission is to provide collaborative expertise and educational, practical and financial resources to our network of entrepreneurs and industry partners. We’re delighted to join forces with PizzaRev and begin working together toward achieving long-term sustained success.”