Sacramento-area consumers apparently can’t get enough pizza.
Within the past two years alone, Sacramento has seen a blizzard of specialty pizza operations come to town, adding to the mix of nationally known pizza chains.
That includes established delivery and take-out giants such as Domino’s and Papa John’s and take-and-bake specialist Papa Murphy’s. The sit-down restaurant landscape has Pizza Hut and, Western-based Round Table Pizza and Golden State-geared California Pizza Kitchen.
When it comes to pizza, the more the merrier. There’s so much you can do with it … healthy, veggie, all red meat. It’s the perfect food.
Jan Lloyd, 31, of Sacramento.
The Northern California-centric pizza pie houses include Mountain Mike’s and Folsom-based West of Chicago Restaurants Inc., which has five local Chicago Fire pizzerias.
The latest arrival came to town this month , when Southern California-based PizzaRev opened its first Sacramento restaurant at 5801 Folsom Blvd.
Pizza is a nearly $35 billion-a-year industry, with some 70,000 pie purveyors in the United States, according to federal government statistics
Like other franchise operations, PizzaRev features quick-cooked, craft-your-own pizza. And while you can get classic ingredients such as pepperoni, roasted garlic and Italian sausage on a pie, customers also can opt for pizzas with buffalo milk, artichoke hearts, organic tomato sauce and fennel seeds. Vegan cheese and gluten-free dough also are offered.
On its opening day in Sacramento, PizzaRev offered a daylong pizza giveaway. About 50 customers were in line when doors opened at 11 a.m., and the out-the-door line stayed in place most of the day. Ordinarily, an 11-inch pizza costs $8.25, no matter how many ingredients are selected.
Pizza “can also be a vehicle for a lot of other hot-food trends,” especially in California.
Annika Stensson, National Restaurant Association
Harvind Uppal, the 25-year-old PizzaRev franchisee-owner, said the all-day crowd was evidence of pizza’s appeal in the Sacramento area.
“I am not surprised. You can craft your own pizza any way you like it, with unique ingredients. People really like that,” he said.
Uppal doesn’t believe that the Sacramento area is approaching anything near pizza overload. He said he plans to open four more PizzaRev restaurants in the Sacramento market over the next couple of years. The next spot under consideration is Citrus Heights in 2017.
If he does, the locations will join an already crowded Sacramento-area pizza landscape that includes:
▪ Pasadena-based Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza. The chain opened in Gold River and Roseville in 2014 and in Davis in 2015.
▪ Blast 825. The Fresno-based chain opened in Roseville in 2014 and has since added restaurants in Rocklin and Elk Grove. The 825 is a shout-out to the temperature maintained in the restaurant’s brick ovens.
▪ Rancho Santa Margarita-based Pieology Pizzeria. A new Pieology restaurant opened this year in Folsom, adding to its eateries in Sacramento, Roseville and Rancho Cordova.
Government statistics say pizza is a nearly $35 billion-a-year industry, with some 70,000 pie purveyors in the United States. The Washington, D.C.-based National Restaurant Association does not collect hard data on pizza restaurants, but Annika Stensson, a researcher for the group, said there is “anecdotal evidence that fast-casual pizza restaurants are having a moment in the sun in several locations across the United States.”
Stensson also noted that pizza “can also be a vehicle for a lot of other hot-food trends,” especially in California. She cited gluten-free ingredients, nutrition-conscious offerings, locally sourced ingredients, eco-friendly food, house-made artisan items and global flavors.
Pizza is “sort of a unicorn among dishes,” she said.
Customers standing in line for PizzaRev’s opening-day giveaway likewise said they believe the Sacramento area’s hunger for pizza knows no bounds.
“When it comes to pizza, the more the merrier,” said 31-year-old Sacramentan Jan Lloyd, who was picking up a pizza for her two kids on her way home from work. “There’s so much you can do with it … healthy, veggie, all red meat. It’s the perfect food.”
Tim Johnson, a 41-year-old Elk Grove resident, said he has noticed the proliferation of pizzerias in the area, “but I think it’s a good thing. You can have too many coffeehouses, but pizza, (there’s) no limit.”
He added: “I hope they keep coming and do good business. This (PizzaRev restaurant) looks like it’s off to a good start. More jobs and food you can eat right here or take home. Who doesn’t like that?”
Uppal said the PizzaRev eatery on Folsom Boulevard employs more than 30 people.
Eric Schnetz, the CEO and corporate chef who oversees the five Chicago Fire pizza restaurants in the Sacramento area, chuckled when asked about rapid growth of franchised, over-the-counter pizza restaurants in the area.
“The closest thing I can compare it to is yogurt and bagel shops,” he said.
Schnetz said that he’s not concerned about competition, noting that the authentic Chicago-style pizzas served in his local restaurants – which also feature specially crafted fixtures and Midwest-style table settings – appeal to a very different demographic of pie lovers.
“There’s really no comparison,” he said.
In late 2015, the California Restaurant Association said there were nearly 350 eateries in Sacramento County classified as “pizzerias” or “pizza and pasta” locations. Statewide, there were more than 9,100.
The CRA noted that the popularity of craft-your-own pizza restaurants and those using whole-wheat or gluten-free crusts and fresh, locally sourced ingredients were on the rise.