Web Exclusive | January 2018 | By Laura Zolman Kirk

How to Reinvent Fast-Casual Pizza

Uncle Maddio’s Pizza, a brand known for offering quality pizza fast, strives for further efficiency and customer engagement in new redesign.
Employees prepare pizza at Uncle Maddio's new service line in Georgia, showcasing the restaurant chain's fresh design and commitment to the customer experience.
In November, Uncle Maddio’s debuted a new contemporary design in its Acworth, Georgia, restaurant. Uncle Maddio's
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As QSR reported earlier this month: From the "Big Four"—Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Domino's, and Little Caesars—to new fast-casual upstarts like MOD Pizza, the quick-service world is experiencing a pizza war. Another player in this battle is Atlanta-based Uncle Maddio's Pizza, which opened up shop in 2008 and now has nearly 40 units across the U.S.

One of the brand's first marketing strategies was the "Campaign for Real Pizza." Uncle Maddio's offers customers the option to choose from the 48 toppings available on a visible prep line, then delivers quality pizza fast (the wait averages around eight minutes). Now, with other brands marketing themselves with similar missions, Uncle Maddio's has stepped up its game.

The brand's key weapon in the pizza fight? A redesign.

In November 2017, Uncle Maddio's debuted a new contemporary design in its Acworth, Georgia, restaurant, which features an updated layout with payment options up front to cater to on-the-go customers. Designed to reduce bottlenecks during peak periods, a second prep line was added in back for more efficient pick up orders. And, with new seating arrangements and decor options, the team at Uncle Maddio's can encourage customer engagement with the brand's physical location and online more effectively.

"Our new design not only allows for a flexibility that consumers are demanding from fast-casual restaurants, it creates a 'served with love' environment where people want to gather," says Uncle Maddio's CEO Matt Andrew, who pulled from his experience with Moe's Southwest Grill to launch the chain. The changes, he adds, also pave the way for increased profitability. "We make all strategy decisions through the lens of one, Does it produce a return on investment; two, Is it going to sell more pizza?; and three, Is it good for our people [team members and guests?]"

The redesign checks all three boxes, Andrew says, and the company plans to integrate elements of the design into current restaurants soon. "There will be essential brand elements that we will incorporate into our current restaurants on a responsible timeline of reinvesting into the business," Andrew says. "[And] franchisees will have a remodel roadmap that integrates our historic design with new design elements in a seamless way."  

Other additions to look forward to include new menu items—hello, calzones—as well as reinvented pairings of old menu favorites. "We recently paired our house-made alfredo sauce, served warm, with our cheesy breadsticks," Andrew says. "It's spot on."

But the classic Uncle Maddio's menu isn't going anywhere soon, including Andrew's go-to, the Buffalo Chicken pizza.

Working with Jennifer Rotondo’s Kitch consulting firm, The Mitchells, a full-service advertising agency, developed the contemporary graphics with a twist on iconic retro style, giving a fresh perspective to in-store graphics, menu boards, and packaging.

“Understanding our customer’s business and our years of experience allow The Mitchells to provide thought leadership, creativity and brand strategy that propel stagnant brands back into the forefront,” says Erich Stefanovich, chief creative officer.

A look inside the redesign:

Uncle Maddio's

Dining-in customers can still watch their pizzas be crafted, but Uncle Maddio's has now included a second prep line for efficiency with pick up orders.

Uncle Maddio's

New seating options, including the party booth and more group tables, presents Uncle Maddio's as a gathering space, bettering guest experience.

Uncle Maddio's

On the flip side, to better serve the on-the-go customer, Uncle Maddio's redesign offers guests the option to order and pay upfront, without having to walk along the prep line or cozy into a booth.

Uncle Maddio's

After being tested as a limited-time offer, calzones will soon be rolled out on the regular menu. "We will always lead from the front with great food," Andrew says of Uncle Maddio's food philosophy.

Uncle Maddio's

Brought together by Jennifer Rotondo of foodservice consulting firm Kitch, the "Talk to Maddio" decor encourages online engagement with the brand.

Uncle Maddio's

The redesign's new bar adds more flexibility to Uncle Maddio's seating options.

Uncle Maddio's

"One of the factors that was compelling about getting into the pizza category was the frequency at which people eat pizza," says Andrew, who himself eats pizza about three times a week between meals and menu tastings. "I am no exception to that; it's one of my favorite foods."

Images: Uncle Maddio's