Rick Schaden, founder and chairman of Smashburger parent company Consumer Concept Partners, offered more details at the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show (NRA Show) on the company’s soon-to-launch fast-casual pizza brand.

The concept, Live Basil Pizza, is getting ready to open its first location in Denver. It is built around an assembly-line pizza model, in which customers can build their own pizza or order a selection from the menuboard.

The prepared menu includes pizzas like the Live Basil Margherita, the Maui BBQ Natural Chicken, and the Colorado with Bison Sausage and Green Chile; salads like the Arugula, Lemon and Pistachios Salad and the Colorado Chopped Salad; and smoothies including the Mixed Berry, Peach Mango, and Häagen-Dazs Sorbet and Fruits varieties. The restaurant will also have a Boylan soda fountain and beer and wine selections.

Customers designing their own pie can choose among four sauces, five cheeses, seven meats, and 14 additional toppings and fresh vegetables. Many of the ingredients are organic, and some are imported from Italy.

One of Live Basil’s signatures will be a basil plant positioned on the assembly line, from which employees can pick fresh basil to place on customers’ pies. Each pizza will be finished with a swirl of olive oil and sea salt, and the concept will have an 800-degree oven that can cook the pies in two minutes. Schaden says the whole ordering experience lasts four minutes.  

Schaden says all consumer data points to fast-casual pizza being the next major trend in foodservice. He believes satisfaction is waning on traditional pizza brands, and that consumers will continue to demand “fresh,” light pizzas like those Live Basil plans to offer.  

All Live Basil restaurants will be company owned, and Schaden says the company will pursuit smart growth in urban, “A” locations. He adds that three leases are signed, with two more to be signed this year and a planned eight locations coming next year.

By Sam Oches

Consumer Trends, Growth, News, Pizza, Live Basil