Panera Bread franchisee group signs deal for 25 units with the Pizza Studio

(Press Release), Los Angeles, CA, August 13, 2013 — Los Angeles-based fast-casual restaurant, The Pizza Studio, announced today the signing of an agreement with Studio 37, LLC of San Jose, Calif. to develop 25 new restaurants throughout the greater San Francisco metro area. The managing member of Studio 37 is Jeff Burrill, who also serves as the managing member of Pangenera, LLC, a multi-unit developer of Panera Bread in the San Francisco Bay area.

“We were looking for a great concept to add to our portfolio and after thorough diligence within the fast-casual pizza space, The Pizza Studio appealed to us the most,” said Burrill.  “For our group, the most important aspect to buying into a new concept, beyond unit economics, is the quality and integrity of the management team behind it, and we are thoroughly impressed with the team leading The Pizza Studio.”

Burrill is referring to The Pizza Studio’s executives and co-founders: Samit Varma and Ron Biskin. Varma, the brainchild behind the concept, was inspired by the memory of creating his own pizzas in his mother’s kitchen as a child.  From there he grew up to become a ballistic missile nuclear submarine officer.  He received a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.

After serving his country, Varma became a general partner at Anthem Venture Partners, an early stage venture capital firm with a significant track record, including three company sales to Google. While at Anthem, Varma served on several boards that grew companies from infancy to several hundred millions in value.
Biskin is another major achiever who has enjoyed a long career in the franchised restaurant segment. He began his career with TGI Friday’s Inc. in 1983 and most recently served as president of Native Foods Café in 2012.  He has franchised and developed hundreds of locations for TGI Fridays, Burger King, Baja Fresh and Wolfgang Puck, where he served as president of Wolfgang Puck Express Licensing.  In addition, he was involved in one of the biggest sales and acquisitions during 2002, when Baja Fresh was sold to Wendy’s International. When Biskin was first approached by Varma with the The Pizza Studio opportunity, it was clear that their backgrounds were extremely complementary. They decided to join forces and achieve their goal of making The Pizza Studio the number one “Create Your Masterpiece” pizza chain in the country.

The Pizza Studio offers a wide assortment of crusts, specialty sauces, premium meats, fresh and roasted vegetables and the highest quality ingredients at affordable prices. They are known for their variety of flavors of their proprietary thin, light and crispy crusts with unlimited toppings of sauces, cheeses, nitrate-free meats and fresh-cut and roasted vegetables for each custom-built pizza creation.

Aggressive expansion plans are expected to continue for the company.  The Pizza Studio now has signed development deals with several experienced multi-unit operators for 74 units and projects there will be announcements for 150 signed units by the end of the year.
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The Pizza Studio
4766 Park Granada
Calabasas, CA 91302

Key Personnel:         Samit Varma, President and Co-Founder
Ron Biskin, CEO and Co-Founder
Ashleigh Siefker, Director of Operations

Concept:                    The Pizza Studio is a fast-casual franchise concept that invites guests to create their own custom pizza masterpiece from a variety of artisanal crusts, specialty sauces, premium meats, fresh veggies and the highest-quality ingredients at affordable prices.

An 11-inch “Create Your Masterpiece” pizza is $7.99, including unlimited premium toppings, while featured “Starving Artists” selections are $5.99. Featuring a proprietary thin, light and crispy crust, the pizzas are baked within minutes in a high-heat, conveyor-belt convection oven to ensure consistency.

In keeping with its name, The Pizza Studio features work from local artists on display throughout the store and on sale commission-free. It has already sold more than $4,000 worth of art, including some works by young, inner-city artists.

Market Position:       According to recent Concepts 2020 research from Technomic, the made-to-order pizza niche is expected to be the next hot concept in fast-casual food, the fastest-growing segment in the restaurant industry. Fast-casual pizza concepts are providing better quality and fresher ingredients, with consumers designing their-own pizzas to be ready within minutes – a proven recipe for success within the fast-casual space, the report found.

The Pizza Studio is positioned to be at the forefront of the fast-casual pizza category with a business model built upon speed, simplicity, consistency and quality that is easily scalable and offers unique growth opportunities through joint-venture partnerships.

History:                      Growing up, Samit Varma’s mother used to let him and his brother and sister create their own pizzas in the family kitchen. Varma would go on to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, spend eight years assigned to a Trident Submarine and become a partner with one of West Coast’s most successful venture capital firms.

Although he evaluated thousands of business plans as a venture capitalist, Varma always remembered the time spent making pizzas with his family and thought it would make for an ideal business. In 2012, Varma teamed with restaurant industry veteran Ron Biskin – who was responsible for the North American expansion of Wolfgang Puck’s chain of causal restaurants – to launch The Pizza Studio and its “Create Your Masterpiece” concept. The first Pizza Studio opened in Los Angeles across from the University of Southern California in January 2013.

Growth Projections:               The Pizza Studio has 74 units in development across the country and expects to have more than 150 locations in development by the end of 2013. Investors include Jeff Burrill, a leading Panera Bread franchisee and Lloyd Sugarman, co-founder and largest franchisee of Johnny Rockets. The Pizza Studio has three additional corporate-owned locations under construction in the Los Angeles area. Unique joint-venture partnerships are available to select franchisees. The Pizza Studio is only seeking investors with the resources for multi-unit ownership.

Franchise Facts:                         The estimated initial investment for a single location of The Pizza Studio ranges from $250,000 to $500,000, including a $15,000 development fee per store and $25,000 franchise fee. Royalties are 5.5 percent of gross sales with an additional contribution of up to two percent of gross sales to a national brand fund.

Training and Ongoing Support:    The Pizza Studio offers a comprehensive four-week training program at its corporate headquarters that encompasses all aspects of management and operations.