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Franchise Focus: At Spin Pizza, growth means rolling right into community’s ’embrace’

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It’s all about the growth, according to Spin Pizza co-owner and CEO Ed Brownell. That’s why he said the 15-unit chain based in Kansas City has rebranded after he and Gail Lozoff founded the brand more than 13 years ago now. The two had worked together at  Bagel & Bagel, now Einstein Bros. Bagels, which Lozoff founded. Lozoff has since retired from the pizza brand, but Brownell stayed on as CEO to help fuel growth.

To him, that meant dropping the word, “Neapolitan” from the brand’s name, updating the menu and website and simplifying the menu boards by replacing most of the Italian words with easier-to-pronounce English equivalents. Today the chain has locations in Los Angeles, Dallas and Papillion, Nebraska,, as well.

The chain’s new menu —inspired and co-developed with James Beard award-winning Chef Michael Smith — has been in test mode at a Kansas City location since summer, according to Brownell, who recently spoke with sister site, FastCasual.

The menu has been a “huge success,” by all reports, but Brownell fielded a few more questions about the brand’s expansion strategy.

Q. Why have you decided to franchise in some areas but stay company-owned in others? How do you decide which way to go in what areas? 
A. We have franchised in areas where uniquely qualified, experienced restaurateurs who match our culture and vision were interested in opening in markets that offer strong demographics for our brand.

Q.  What are your growth plans? Where and when is the next opening, for example? 
A. Our next location, which is under construction, is scheduled to open this summer in Topeka, Kansas. In addition, we are looking at other cities in the Midwest where Spin will be a good fit.

Q. How do you measure success? Is it a certain sales number or a number of units, for example? 
A. We don’t measure our success in sales as much as how the local community embraces Spin. We strive to be an extension of our guests’ kitchens and consider ourselves part of the neighborhood family.

Q. What makes Spin different from the other fast casual pizza brands?
A. We focus on making our food from fresh ingredients daily including our award-winning pizza dough, homemade soups and made-from-scratch salad dressings. Every morning, we roast our toppings in stone fired ovens to heighten their flavors before they’re placed on pizzas. Our menu items and recipes are inspired by a nationally recognized James Beard Award-winning chef.

Q. Why was it important to come out with a new menu? Do customers like it?
It was a combination of two things: No. 1 — Ensuring that after 13 years in business, we were providing the best possible guest value and experience. And No. 2 — Preparing for growth.

We began testing a new menu last summer. By extensively testing the changes under consideration and conducting a guest survey, we were able to evaluate which changes should be implemented on a permanent basis. We’ve gotten terrific feedback from guests regarding the new menu and we’ve continued to stock some of the ingredients for items that no longer appear on the menu so that we can serve them upon special request.

Q. What is your favorite thing on the menu?
Our new Double Pepperoni Pizza. It features our new zesty red sauce — made from a combination of Spin’s herbed olive oil glaze and our traditional red sauce — topped with two layers of our signature cheese blend and two layers of pepperoni. It’s phenomenal.

A close second is our Chicken Cobb salad with house-made buttermilk ranch dressing. We introduced it as a seasonal salad last summer, and it quickly became our most popular salad so we incorporated it into our menu.

Republished with permission from Pizza Marketplace.

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