A pizza-industry publication has named a Seattle pizzeria as a contender to lead the burgeoning "build your own pizza" movement.
According to Pizza Marketplace, Mod Pizza is one of five chains positioned to "be the Chipotle of the pizza industry." Its competitors for customer-designed pizza dominance include Top That!, an Oklahoma operation that got its start in a retrofitted Quizno's; Pie-ology, a California brand that utilizes a hot-burning, open-flame oven; Pie Five, masterminded by the 50-year old Pizza Inn chain; and Uncle Maddio's Pizza Joint, backed by a Moe's Southwestern Grill founder.
"Frankly, I'm surprised the niche hasn't been filled," says Ally Svenson, who three years ago launched Mod with her husband Scott. "There's room for many people to do this successfully. The U.S. is a huge place."
While Pizza Marketplace reports that Top That! has franchise contracts for locations across the country and in the Middle East, the custom-pizza scene is still developing regionally. Svenson says the distance between chains has prevented her from visiting other pizza parlors churning out made-to-order personal pies.
"At some point, I'd love to," says Svenson, who senses there's a fair amount of camaraderie among pizza chain operators.
The Svensons previously ran coffee shops in the UK. The chain was eventually purchased by Starbucks, capping an experience that taught the couple not to worry too much about multiple entrepreneurs trying out the same concept. When cafes started sprouting up around their stores, Svenson says, "everyone said 'Oh my gosh, now you have competition.' We were just busy trying to do the best we could."
Mod currently has locations in downtown Seattle, Bellevue, the U District, and Capitol Hill.
"We've been very intentional with our growth to make sure we really understand the business," Svenson says. "We're planning on growing this business, but we're big on making sure we do it right."