The team from Fuel Pizza is debuting a new concept in D.C. next week, and it's one they hope to take national.
Custom Fuel is opening at 1747 Pennsylvania Ave. NW next Tuesday. It's one of the customizable pizza concepts that has become trendy in the fast casual segment of the restaurant market lately (&pizza has a similar model) — think pizza, Chipotle-style. At Custom Fuel, customers can pick their toppings from a selection laid out in front of them and see their pizza prepared, conveyor belt-style, in two minutes.
Though customers will be able to pick their own at Custom Fuel, co-owner Jeremy Wladis says he thinks about 70 percent of orders will be the premade combinations Fuel has developed, in such flavors as Hawaiian (featuring pulled pork) or the Brooklyn Bridge, a spicy, multi-meat offering. The individual pizzas are priced low at $6.97 or $7.97 depending on the type ordered.
New York-based The Restaurant Group, which operates Fuel along with several other brands, spent about five years developing Custom. Wladis had received a lot of interest in franchising Fuel, but it's harder to retain control over a pizza-by-the-slice operation, he said. Custom is a concept that's easier to replicate. So they went to work on Custom Fuel, "and we finally got it right a few months ago," he said.
Like the traditional Fuel, the pizzas emphasize natural ingredients, though the dough is slightly different, and the size of the pizzas are smaller at Custom Fuel. The restaurant also will sell several salads. The location has several television screens and a gas station-themed look similar to the other Fuel locations (D.C. has traditional Fuels on K Street and in Penn Quarter).
Despite the fact Custom hasn't opened yet, two others are already on the way. The Fuel opening at 2301 Georgia Ave. NW near Howard University will be a Custom Fuel, and the restaurant is planning a location in Harlem, N.Y. as well. Wladis hopes to be franchising by the end of the year.
· Custom Fuel [Official Site]
· All Previous Fuel Pizza Coverage [-EDC-]
Fuel Owners Jeremy Wladis and Zach Current [Photo: Missy Frederick/Eater.com]