Toppers Pizza unveiled a new store design in an effort to engage with more customers as it opens new locations.

The prototype features an open kitchen that allows for the brand’s customers to see employees creating the customizable pizzas.

“The inspiration was our customers and the changes we’re seeing in our business. Back in the day, the pizza business was [about] 80 to 90 percent delivery; these days we have a far larger percentage of our customers are either ordering online or calling in and coming in and picking it up,” says Toppers’ chief development officer David Biederman. “With our customers coming in, it gives us a great opportunity to showcase what we do and we’re very proud of our pizza. We make our dough fresh every day; we hand chop our vegetables, and we use real Wisconsin cheese.”

Biederman says that about 30 to 40 percent of Toppers customers come in to the restaurant locations, an enormous increase particularly in recent years.

“We’ve got a lot of personality; we’ve got a lot of character. And we have a whole ethos around making great pizzas and using high quality ingredients and doing things right versus the big guys who are just trying to do it cheap,” he says. “Our customers love who we are and they identify with us, and it’s a great way of transmitting that difference to people.”

Customers have given overwhelming positive feedback to the new design at its Milwaukee prototype, and Biederman says the brand moved up the roll out timeline to include it in the nearly 15 restaurants that will open over 2017. Several of Toppers’ 76 existing locations were also retrofitted with the design.

The concept has gone over well with operators, too, as the brand evaluated the design on its efficiency and effectiveness.

“After 25 years in the business, we’re pretty good at designing a kitchen to kick out some products,” Biederman says. “We have to continually manage the price of our assets, so our operators were most concerned with the efficiency of our operations and the overall cost of building restaurants, and we really delivered on both in this design.”

By Alex Dixon

Design, Fast Casual, Growth, News, Pizza, Toppers Pizza