Staid to Sexy for Surfside, New PizzaRev Operator in Miami
PizzaRev is a fast-casual, choose-your-own ingredients chain based in Los Angeles.
Chris Mellgren, CEO of Surfside Coffee, built his Dunkin’ Donuts operation in and around Miami to 68 stores in a mere two years, both through acquisitions and new construction. Now he’s signed with PizzaRev to add 45 restaurants in the same locales, in a move that could be called stable to sexy.
“It’s a really good addition to our portfolio,” Mellgren said about PizzaRev, “because we have a rock-solid, staid brand like Dunkin’—you know what to expect when you open one. But then when you layer in a new, exciting, as you put it ‘craze,’ we think it’s exciting. It’s a new brand, it’s a hot space, so it’s interesting.”
Mellgren said he’s been “a big fan of the fast-casual craft-your-own pizza space for a while.” He looked into a couple of players in the emerging category, and then met Irv Zuckerman and Rodney Eckerman, the Los Angeles-based PizzaRev’s founders. “Irv and Rodney’s brand and their approach really aligned with what I like,” he said, although he noted other players are solid, too. “I think they’re all good and at the end of the day I believe there’s enough room for three or four, so I don’t think it’s a winner-take-all” space.
Mellgren’s operation is backed by Fireman Capital Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm that funded Mellgren’s initial push into south Florida from his former base in the Washington, D.C., area. “We’re the first franchise investment they’ve made,” Mellgren said, although Fireman Capital has expertise in many consumer brands. “They ended up being a great partner and I told them I aspired to get a couple more brands. So when I brought up the PizzaRev thing they were excited.”
Mellgren plans to add an independent operations team to run the PizzaRev stores, with the goal to open six in year one. Surfside’s connections to real estate brokers, especially, will speed the PizzaRev rollout, he believes, particularly because many sites unsuitable for Dunkin’ stores because they don’t have drive-thru space, will work for PizzaRev.