Customers who visited Your Pie in the early days had to overcome a learning curve for fast-casual pizza. Families weren’t used to the customization Your Pie offered, or its speed of service. Your Pie’s eight sauces, eight cheeses, and around 40 toppings went against legacy pizza’s ordering practices.
But customers quickly came around and provided robust business for Your Pie, both at lunch and dinner. Ten months after the first restaurant opened its doors, Your Pie opened a second Athens location. Franchising opportunities followed a year later.
French credits Your Pie’s success to its work in local communities, including partnerships with other local organizations, such as craft-beer brands. Innovative partnerships have been the founder’s strong suit, and he hopes to spend more time ideating now that the company has a veteran CEO and COO (Bucky Cook and Dave McDougall, respectively) to handle day-to-day operational needs. Your Pie appeals to diversifying dietary needs by incorporating gluten-free crust and vegan cheese on the menu, with plans to roll out cauliflower crust in the future. Technology is also a game changer that French wants to continue to leverage.
“Over the years, we've tried to do things with the menu to make ourselves easier to do business with,” French says. “The world is moving so fast. People want things faster than they got it the day before.”
Nonetheless, French says pizza’s popularity and consistency will allow the brand to succeed anywhere. He feels the fast-casual pizza category is still in its infancy, with room to innovate and define the genre as it becomes more popular.
“I think we're all still trying to figure out what the customer truly wants out of fast-casual pizza,” he says.
Knowing where the industry is headed has been French’s strong suit since he conceived Your Pie. But his biggest advice to aspiring industry leaders is to have the same touch of naiveté he possessed in his early 20s.
“I didn't know what I didn't know, and I still did it anyway—that was why I was able to be successful in the first store,” French says.
Want to learn more? Subscribe to “Fast Forward,” QSR’s podcast interviewing fast-casual founders, innovators, and entrepreneurs. Visit QSRmagazine.com/podcast for the entire archive.