If you don’t live in the central or western United States, then you’re probably not familiar with Papa Murphy's, a rather unique pizza chain that doesn’t deliver or even cook pizzas. It’s a “take and bake” type of joint, meaning you literally take the pizza home and bake it yourself. Sort of like DiGiorno, only the pizza is not frozen. Far from it, in fact. The store is set up in the highly fashionable fast-casual format (think Chipotle), whereby customers choose from a selection of fresh ingredients and watch as their order is custom-made in front of them. The only major difference between this pizza concept and America’s dominant burrito-bowl behemoth is the heat — or, in Papa Murphy’s case, the lack thereof.
The publicly traded Vancouver, Washington-based company, which presently has franchises in about 1,400 locations, has yet to set up shop in New York City. But the guys on Wall Street are still pretty psyched about it. CNBC's Jim Cramer, for one, likened its soaring profile — the stock is up some 42 percent in 2015 — to the trajectory of biotech firms. Certainly not your typical food outlet. Last week, the company announced that same-stores sales increased by 8.4 percent in the final quarter of 2014, and that company-owned stores saw slightly greater gains of 10.5 percent. Overall, it was the “16th consecutive quarter of growth,” according to a press release. Not too shabby for a restaurant that doesn’t cook.
Having no oven to maintain or delivery people on the payroll means lower overhead than your average pizzeria, as CNBC’s Cramer duly points out. And that means lower prices for consumers.
The company is now in the midst of a massive nationwide expansion, particularly focused in the South, with the stated goal of tripling its total footprint to some 4,500 stores. That’s a far more aggressive build-out strategy than the other buzzy food brand of the moment, Shake Shack, which has plans for only 450 stores.
Then again, it’s probably not a fair comparison. Shake Shack, after all, has different things to worry about, like cooking equipment. Here’s more about Papa Murphy’s.
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