&pizza announced promotions and new hires to support the brand's rapid growth. The chain, which has consistently shaken the table since its 2012 debut, now boasts 800-plus employees in over 36 locations across the East Coast. This growth was the impetus to strengthen the executive roster to ensure a smarter, faster, and more thoughtful expansion.
New appointments include:
- Andy Hooper, president/COO—Hooper, who has been with the brand for 18 months in the role Chief People Officer, has been promoted to president & COO. A restaurant industry veteran, Hooper rose through the ranks with leadership roles at Cafe Rio Mexican Grill and Burger King Corporation. In this new position, he will apply his people-first expertise to overseeing all business operations and procedures, positioning the brand for continued growth.
- Chef Erik Bruner-Yang, Executive Chef—Bruner-Yang is joining &pizza as the brand's Executive Chef, revamping the menu for the first time since its inception. A renowned D.C.-based chef (Spoken English; Brothers And Sisters; Maketto) and James Beard Foundation Award finalist, Bruner-Yang will put his own spin on the menu, further enhancing &pizza's offerings.
- John Reepmeyer, CFO—Reepmeyer has officially joined &pizza as the company's CFO. He previously served as the CFO for Roti Mediterranean Grill and VP of Finance for Potbelly Sandwich Works, helping both grow significantly and managing the latter's initial public offering in 2013. His wealth of experience will be integral to &pizza's future expansion plans.
Furthermore, &pizza is supported by a board of directors comprised of fast-casual experts including Avalt (a private equity firm with extensive restaurant experience including Dominos & Outback), Kevin Reddy (chairman of the board; former COO of Chipotle and CEO of Noodles), Adam Eskin (founder/CEO of Dig Inn), Sandy Beall (founder of Ruby Tuesday, Blackberry Farm), Doug Jacob (co-founder JWALK) and Matt Higgins (CEO/co-founder of RSE Capital and recent guest Shark on Shark Tank).
The announcement coincides with the brand's next restaurant opening on Wall Street on July 10, featuring a new menu courtesy of Bruner-Yang. And, &pizza has no intention of slowing down. The brand will continue to introduce new shop format innovations and plans to double the company's size over the next two years, including additional locations in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and northern New Jersey within the next year.
At this rate, &pizza is set to outpace other high-profile companies in the fast-casual space. It currently has more units than Shake Shack, Chipotle, and Sweetgreen did at the same point in their respective histories.
Much of &pizza's success can be attributed to co-founder and CEO Michael Lastoria. He will remain at the helm, with the new personnel changes freeing him up to focus on what he does best: providing brand vision and purpose.
"We're thrilled about the opportunity to push this ever-evolving brand into the future," Lastoria says of the changes. "Developing internal talent and pairing it with top-notch additions will propel our company forward in a way that's consistent with its personality."
The self-proclaimed "anti-establishment establishment" remains committed to its belief in social responsibility. &pizza staunchly advocates for a fair minimum wage and has lobbied for increases on both the local and federal levels. The public can expect to see the brand lend its voice to more causes that align with its mission moving forward.