Pizza gets personal

“Customized personal-size pizza concepts that offer freshly made-to-order pies in just a few minutes are slicing off a piece of the growing fast-casual restaurant business.
 The concepts — which rely on compact forced-air, or impinger-style, conveyor ovens — enable customers to choose from among crusts and dozens of toppings for a complete customized experience delivered in just a few minutes. “

‘”And the small group of pizza pioneers is growing, experts say.
 “Fast-casual pizza is birthing as a category,’ said Matt Andrews, who in 2009 debuted Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint in Atlanta and now has four build-your-own-pie units in two markets. Andrews also is the creator of the Moe’s Southwest Grill chain, now owned by Focus Brands. 
 ‘We saw an opportunity to give customers the same service for pizza that they get for burritos, hamburgers and sandwiches,’ Andrews said. ‘It’s high-quality fast-casual pizza.'”

‘“Data show that customers like to customize,’ said Kevin Higar, director of consulting and research for Technomic Inc., the research firm in Chicago. ‘They like to have that decision and that control if they want it. And they also want to know it’s absolutely fresh.’

Higar said Technomic’s upcoming “2012 Pizza Consumer Trend Report” found:

• 70 percent of consumers feel it is “very important” or “important” to “have a variety of toppings to choose from.”

* About 32 percent of all consumers surveyed build a pizza with three or more toppings.

• 33 percent of consumers “agree” or “agree completely” that they are interested in pizza with innovative or unusual toppings.