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The &pizza ‘It factor’? Creating Meaningful Connections

&Pizza It Factor

To learn more about the 2017 Emerging Brands, download the full report here:


An Emerging Brands 2017 profile:

Fishbowl’s Emerging Brands list is based on consumers’ reaction to brands they have rated and reviewed via a number of social media channels. It also takes into account the presence of an intangible ‘It Factor’ – something that usually comes across in written reviews and sometimes requires further exploration for a full understanding. This was the case with &pizza, a repeat entry on our list and 2017’s #4.

On the surface, &pizza is a fast casual concept that delivers excellent pizza exactly the way its customers want it – in addition to offering a number of standard pies (‘The Hits’), &pizza is known for its customization model. Patrons choose from 3 types of organic dough, 6 styles of sauce, 3 cheeses and a multitude of locally-sourced and GMO-free toppings to craft their favorites. Dietary restrictions are honored – vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free? It all works at &Pizza.

The offerings alone make &pizza a crowd-pleaser, but it is what lies beneath that elevates this brand to something extraordinary. Founder Michael Lastoria describes it best: “Everything we’ve done, from the time we launched to today, has been about building something more than just a pizza shop. We want to serve up experience. We want to be a Tribe of people connected by something greater than their place of work. We want our ampersand to stand for something more – a lifestyle, a culture, a belief system, a way of relating to the world – and we work hard to stay true to that mandate.” (Ryan O. Ferguson, DC Inno, 12/16/16)

The staff at &pizza, also known as the &pizza Tribe, are led by the brand’s founding principles – to create meaningful connections, take pride in everything they do, create trends and create group success by celebrating the individual. The company offers a forward thinking benefits package that, among other things, includes higher than average pay, medical, dental, a 401K, ‘swagger for days,’ and ‘tattoos and glamour shots.’ Yes – tattoos are a benefit and although optional, at least 70 &pizza Tribe have opted in so far. “When I launched,” says Lastoria, “I decided that I wanted to make a brand that was so true to its employees, they would tattoo their allegiance on their own body, not because they were ‘lifers’ to the brand, but because they truly believed in what the symbol of our brand stands for. And we’ve done it.”

Not only does the on-staff Tribe respond to the brand’s strong call – devoted customers have also joined the ranks. Promotions such as “Get a Tattoo and a Year of Pizza for Free” grand openings – draw crowds and willing volunteers. Since mentions of tattoos in restaurant social media reviews are uncommon, this unique conversation caught our eye – it isn’t the actual ink that impressed us, but &pizza’s ability to clarify its strong mission, remain dedicated to its principles and excellent sought-after food certainly does.

Founded in DC by Michael Lastoria and Steve Salis, &pizza crafts customized pizza using locally sourced ingredients in a fast casual environment. The brand’s unique personality, employee-focused management and devoted fan base round out its appeal.

This blog was written by Fishbowl’s Katharine Dalton, Analyst, Primary Data.