Chipotle wants to make pizza fast, individually tailored and with higher-quality ingredients than low-end competitors. The company made their first secretive move earlier this year when they helped finance the Denver opening of Pizzeria Locale, a restaurant that aims to serve pizza just as Chipotle does burritos. The restaurant’s executives hope to carve out a niche between eating pizza at home and heading to a high-end, sit-down Italian restaurant.
Diners stand in a line to choose their toppings from a selection on display, and also get to watch their food being made. Individual 11-inch pizzas cost $6.50 and only take a few minutes to make, thanks to a specially-designed oven that rotates the pizzas and heats up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. ”It’s really central to making this thing work in a fast-casual format,” Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold said. “With the type of oven that they used at the original Locale, it would be really difficult, given the volume that you do in a fast-casual environment, to keep all of the pizzas cooking perfectly without tremendously skilled pizzaoili.”
Pizzeria Locale represents Chipotle’s second exploration beyond Mexican food, the first of which was ShopHouse Asian Kitchen. Chiptole founder and CEO, Steve Ells has long said that he believes his company’s model could be applied to even more cuisines. “What Chipotle is best in the world at is not burritos and tacos,” he told HuffPost in an interview in July. “We happen to be very good at burritos and tacos, but the reason we’re good at burritos and tacos is that we’re really the best in the world at this new fast food format.”
Images: Locale Boulder