Pitfire Pizza Hot Despite Recession; Owners Cite High Quality

According to Nation’s Restaurant News, “Paul Hibler and David Sanfield, co-owners of the Los Angeles-based Pitfire Pizza Co., like to describe their Northern California-inspired artisan-pizza chain as an overnight success 10 years in the making.”

“With a fourth unit scheduled to open in October, the fast-casual concept, which specializes in wood-oven-baked pizzas, pastas, salads and paninis, is averaging $1.8 million per unit in less than 3,000 square feet.At a time when the vast majority of restaurant companies across the country are reporting negative sales, Pitfire Pizza is up about 13 percent over the prior year, Hibler said—an accomplishment considering the chain does no advertising and offers no promotional discounts or coupons.With Pitfire Pizza, Hibler and Sanfield have carved out a niche in the fast-casual segment—they prefer the term “convenient casual”—that is decidedly more upscale, borrowing much from the fine-dining world.Their efforts have struck a chord. Cash-strapped consumers that may once have been inclined to high-end, white-tablecloth dinners are now standing in line at Pitfire to order thin-crust pizzas with braised chard, smoked prosciutto and an egg baked on top for less than $10, or organic soft-serve vanilla ice cream drizzled with high-quality olive oil and salt for $4,” the story said.