Pizza Studio celebrates Oct. opening of 2nd Bay Area store by giving FREE PIZZA to anyone who WHISPERS SECRET PHRASE

On Oct. 21, California-based Pizza Studio (, the nation’s fastest-growing pizza-restaurant brand this year, will open its second Bay Area store in Palo Alto. (The other is in Mountain View.) Locations in San Bruno and Los Gatos will follow soon.

Embracing the design-it-yourself concept pioneered by Chipotle and Subway, Pizza Studio offers guests the opportunity to create their own gourmet, artisanal pizza, with fresh ingredients that are as locally sourced as possible. Guests’ chef-crafted “masterpieces” are cooked in just 2 minutes—faster than the time it takes to pay, fill up a soda and sit down at a table.

Three of the company’s California stores, including the one in Mountain View, have the highest overall customer rating on Yelp for any fast-casual pizza chain.


With 15 stores across the country already—from Northern and Southern California to Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Minnesota and New York—Pizza Studio expects to double its growth by the end of 2014, and to have 100 locations nationwide by the end of 2015. It has signed development agreements with several experienced, multi-unit restaurant operators to open more than 200 stores nationwide. Additional announced stores will open soon inIdahoUtah (4 locations); Minneapolis (its second location there); and Washington, D.C.

Pizza Studio, Inc. announced that William “Hank” Simpson, the former SVP and chief franchise officer of Panera Bread (, has joined the rapidly expanding pizza chain as its new COO.  

Before becoming Panera’s chief franchise officer, Simpson held a number of important roles there after arriving in 2002, including director of retail operations and joint ventures; vice president of retail operations; SVP and COO of company and joint ventures; and SVP and chief development officer. Prior to Panera, Simpson was the vice president of franchise operations, and the regional vice president of company operations, for Bennigan’s Restaurants, a chain restaurant operator. He also served as director of human resources at On the Border restaurants.

As Pizza Studio’s new COO, Simpson will direct the continued expansion of its national brand, and optimize the chain’s operational excellence by ensuring its high-quality food and service are maintained at their existing levels.

“Hank has tremendous experience in developing and building emerging, fast-casual dining brands—which is why we’re so fortunate to have him join us,” said Pizza Studio founder and CEO Samit Varma. “His knowledge of corporate and franchise growth is invaluable, and will prove a decisive factor in accelerating our expansion across the country.”

“Pizza Studio is a great concept with strong, experienced leadership that’s already proven—in a very short period of time—its significant potential for growth,” Simpson said. “An opportunity like this comes along very rarely, and I’m excited to be a part of this team.”


Pizza Studio is planning to promote the new Palo Alto store’s opening by releasing a SECRET PHRASE on Twitter and other social media. Customers who WHISPER it to a cashier at the Palo Alto store will receive a free pizza.


Each Pizza Studio location includes a large STARVING ARTISTS’ WALL where local artists can exhibit and sell their work. They’re a fun feature that adds a lot of variety and color to each restaurant. The stores do not charge any commission for providing the display space to the artists they sponsor.

You can see a TV feature on some of the artists who have sold their works through Pizza Studio at The company’s Web site has a slideshow of Starving Artists’ Walls at, and I can send you still fotos, as well.

Pizza Studio plays an active role in FIGHTING HUNGER by donating, through Feeding America (, a free meal to local food charities whenever a patron has spent $20 using the store’s loyalty card. Customers are awarded 1 point for every $1 they spend; 100 points can be redeemed for a free “Masterpiece” pizza.


The company is exploring how to coordinate with local school districts to bring an entire elementary-school class into the Palo Alto store to create their own, (free) customized masterpiece pizza, and also hopes to host an art contest at a local elementary school; the winners will have their paintings or drawings featured in the Palo Alto store and receive a prize of a free masterpiece pizza. Additionally, local students who create a drawing of their dream pizza can bring it to life at Pizza Studio: When they show their own masterpiece at the Palo Alto store, they’ll receive a free pizza.


Pizza Studio offers a choice of 5 artisanal crusts (including Rosemary Herb, Whole Grain & Flax Seed, hot Firecracker, and gluten-free); 4 specialty sauces; 4 freshly grated, crumbled or shaved cheeses (including feta and goat); and 5 seasonings (including Truffle salt and Jamaican jerk spice). You can top your light and crispy, 11-inch pizzas from an assortment of 27 ingredients, ranging from premium meats such as nitrate-free pepperoni, Genoa salami, crispy bacon and sweet chicken sausage to fresh, roasted vegetables such as banana peppers, arugula and caramelized onions. (Here’s a link to the full menu:

Once the trained “Pizza Artist” has finished crafting a “Masterpiece” pie to the guest’s specifications, it’s whisked through the oven on a conveyor belt, ensuring consistently perfect cooking.

Pizza Studio’s “Create Your Masterpiece”TM pizza enable customers to select an unlimited number of toppings and combinations for only $7.99. The restaurant’s signature "Starving Artist" (non-customized) pizzas are only $5.99.