A conversation with Samit Varma, The Pizza Studio

Samit Varma The Pizza StudioThe Pizza Studio Los Angeles, California, co-founders Samit Varma (left) and Ron Biskin have an aggressive growth strategy for the fast casual pizza company. The four-unit operation’s flagship location opened in January 2013.

The Pizza Studio is a fast-casual franchise concept that invites guests to create their own custom pizza masterpiece from a variety of artisanal crusts, specialty sauces, premium meats, fresh veggies and the highest-quality ingredients at affordable prices.

In keeping with its name, The Pizza Studio proudly features and sells artwork from local artists on display throughout its restaurants, commission-free. It has already sold several thousand dollars worth of art, including works by young inner-city children.

The Pizza Studio has more than 100 units in development across the country and expects to have more than 150 locations in development by the end of the year.

Our strong leadership team and intense vetting process of potential franchise partners are a couple things that set us apart. I have a military background and later became a partner at one of the West Coast’s most successful venture capital firms. My partner, Ron Biskin, brings the industry know-how as a senior executive with such brands as Burger King, TGI Friday’s and Baja Fresh. Our backgrounds are very different but they complement each other perfectly and make us great partners.

We knew that we wanted to open several corporate-owned locations, but also wanted to expand quickly in strategic markets across the country through franchising. We’re targeting experienced restaurant operators who are interested in multi-unit ownership to meet our growth objectives.

We’ve created a model built upon speed, simplicity, consistency and quality that is easily scalable and offers unique growth opportunities for our franchisees. We spent an entire year getting every aspect of operations completely right. We have a high-output system that results in a quality and consistent product every time. Everything about the process has been tested and tried with thousands of data points… the crispness of the pizza, the foldability of the crust, the heat, even the size of the bubbling.

Our national rollout plan includes the addition of regional team members experienced in franchise operations and new store openings. We also have a quality assurance department that conducts periodic food, service and sanitation audits of every restaurant, as well as a third party mystery shop service that frequents each restaurant at least once every two weeks. In addition, we have a comprehensive training program for all our managers and above where they learn all the details of our operations.