Fast Casual has named Tony Gemignani, founder of the rapidly expanding Slice House by Tony Gemignani concept, and Beto Guajardo, CEO of Blaze Pizza, among its Top 25 Executives in the fast-casual restaurant industry for 2024. They were the only two pizza company leaders featured in the annual list.

Gemignani and Guajardo and their brands are featured in this month’s 2024 Fast Casual Top Movers & Shakers list.

Gemignani has been riding a wave of success this year, which also saw the release of his new book, The Pursuit of Pizza: Recipes from the World Pizza Champions, co-authored with eminent pizzaioli like John Arena of Metro Pizza, Laura Meyer of Pizzeria da Laura, pizza consultants Lee Hunzinger and Leo Spizzirri, and Audrey Jane Kelly of Audrey Jane’s Pizza Garage, among others.

During the Super Bowl this year, Gemignani’s Slice House concession stands sold 8,200 slices at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Slice House also claimed the No. 50 slot in Fast Casual’s Top 75 Brands list. Slice House saw 410% growth in franchise development last year and reported an average unit volume of $2.4 million.

Gemignani, Fast Casual noted, “is not only a leader in the pizza world but in the world of franchising as well.”

“His ability to marry traditional pizza-making techniques with modern business strategies has set a new standard in the industry,” the article continued. “His influence on the pizza industry and his ability to scale high-quality, artisanal pizza in a fast-casual format are as impressive as his collaborations with major sports teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco Giants, Golden State Warriors, Las Vegas Raiders and Las Vegas Knights.”

After launching its franchising program last year, Slice House is expected to open 12 stores in 2024 and to award an additional 50-75 franchised units.

Gemignani also owns Pizza Rock and Tony’s Pizza Napoletana.

Guajardo took the reins at Blaze Pizza in January 2023. The Pasadena-based company also scored the No. 52 spot in Fast Casual’s Top 75 Brands ranking this year. Under Guajardo’s leadership, Blaze Pizza revamped its loyalty app and added 500,000 loyalty members in a March 14 (Pi Day) promotion last year. Customers who downloaded the Blaze App were automatically enrolled as a Blaze Rewards member, which allowed them to purchase any 11” pizza with unlimited toppings for $3.14 on that day only. They also had to visit a Blaze Pizza location to redeem the offer.

Fast Casual described Guajardo as “a results-driven leader with a sharp focus on elevating fast-casual dining, spearheading growth initiatives and prioritizing an enhanced tailored customer experience. Under his watchful eye, the 319-unit brand is expanding its footprint, with nine openings last year and the forging of multi-unit area development agreements.”

Pizza News