&pizza, the hip, irreverent Washington D.C. chain that once embedded an entire pizza into the base of a skateboard, was getting a bit too stodgy for its own good. Now it’s returning to its rebellious roots under a new CEO.

Mike Burns has taken over the position at &pizza after a stint as COO and executive vice president for RAVE Restaurant Group, which owns the Pie Five Pizza and Pizza Inn chains. Now he’s sporting an ampersand tattoo—the &pizza brand’s trademark—and planning to make the 55-store East Coast chain cool again.

Burns took over Lastoria’s role as CEO last November, but the company mostly kept it on the down-low until last week.

Related: &pizza: Rebels with a cause and a whole lot of style

“I’ve always respected &pizza for being a trailblazer, for punching up and standing up to bullies of the world and being the anti-establishment establishment,” Burns said in a statement. “We’re amping up to be bolder than ever before, and the energy across this entire team is electric. I can’t wait for our guests and team members to see what’s ahead for &pizza.”

Michael Lastoria, the Jesus-bearded entrepreneur who co-founded &pizza in July 2012, has stepped aside as CEO but will reportedly remain in an advisory role. Lastoria has long been an advocate for an employee-first business model; &pizza was starting its hourly team members at $15 an hour and offering benefits several years before COVID-19 transformed the industry and made higher pay and perks practically a necessity for attracting workers. The company currently pays a starting wage of $18 an hour.

Lastoria was also known for policies that allowed employees to take paid time off for political activism and closed the restaurants on election days so employees could vote. And when fans of the brand held their weddings at &pizza locations, Lastoria himself was known to preside over the ceremonies.

As Burns told QSR Magazine, a sister publication of PMQ, the company was due for a change as it “became a little too corporate” and began to drift away from the values that made it a cult favorite.

“All we need to do is go back to what we did—let employees be themselves and crank the music up,” Burns told QSR. “Let customers come in and feel the vibe. You can go anywhere and get a slice of pizza, but you can’t come anywhere and have loud music and edgy employees that almost have to yell to place your order and the customers have to yell back and it’s kind of like this fun interaction. We have a lot of stores that are walk-up only, very limited seating. We have a mix of urban and residential, but it’s all just an experience unlike any other pizza place.”

As the chain continues to spread outside the DMV region, Burns plans to seek more franchisees, add self-ordering kiosks, and tweak and resurrect some old menu favorites that were discontinued due to being too work-intensive.

At the same time, QSR reports, &pizza will become a lean pizza franchise machine, with food, labor and paper costs under 55% and only two employees needed to run a store during peak hours.

&pizza currently has locations in Washington D.C., Baltimore, Virginia, New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia.

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