Entrepreneurial enterprises, especially franchise start-ups, usually prompt justified misgivings on the part of a new customer: if it is a chain, how good can quality control be? Certainly not top of the line, we usually think. But co-founders Jeff Leach and Randy Crochet are not your typical calorie-loaded burger flippers. In fact, Jeff and Randy created their brand in spite of the stereotyped fast-food chain.
The start-up was raised in the soggy wake of Katrina, not only for a healthy food option but for a healthy lifestyle. Naked Pizza is revolutionary, beyond its flour sprinkled crust and crisp ingredients. Naked Pizza has been called a social-media revolution, and we at Elite are starting to believe the case.
Naked Pizza’s market reach has spread further than Jeff and Randy could have done by opening up singular stores on their own. In fact, their is only one corporate owned base branch: when they tried to open a second, it failed due to overhead costs. Naked Pizza’s success and reach has largely been a product of their powerful business plan.
After winning an investment opportunity from business kingpin Mark Cuban, the brand quickly grew under his guidance, but most of all from Mark’s belief in Jeff and Randy’s message. Naked Pizza knew that in light of the depressed economy, and powerful entry barriers held by corporations with established brands, they would need to move quicker than singular successes on their own. Their immediate foray into a franchise structure in September of 2009 proved successful: because of their adamant social-media marketing on Facebook and Twitter, their name attracted more than 4,000 applications for franchise participation by May of 2010.
However, Naked Pizza does not deal with singular owners, they only deal with established restauranteurs with the funding to open and manage multiple locations within a territory; the average franchise consists of 5-10 locations alone. The plan clearly favors more powerful partnerships, establishing the corporation at a rate that will rival some of the largest fast-food giants, within and without their field.
Now that we have digested the tough facts about the brand, let us get to the juicier meat: what does their pizza taste like?
Naked Pizza offers a build-your-own style menu, with several health food specials they have put together themselves. No, this is nothing like Kramer, from Seinfeld‘s, idea of a build-your-own pizza shop. But their wide array of choices will have you satisfied (or tricked) into thinking your pizza is wholly your own creation. And with the taste, it certainly is.
There are three size options (10″, 12″, and 14″), three health-conscious crust options, 15 plant toppings, 5 meat toppings, 3 cheeses, and 3 sauces to choose from. Definitely a dizzying array for the novice, but do not fret: Naked Pizza’s brand name specials will surely fill any appetite’s cravings.
For simplicity, and perhaps because I am a New Yorker, I went for the classic thin crust, red sauce, mozzarella cheese, basil and garlic pizza. It took only around 8 minutes to cook, and there was room to eat it in store, even though it is a delivery based business. The location itself was designed in that nouveau, avant-garde style: green walls in a cube shaped box. It is all the craze nowadays: from Fro-Yo joints to Pop-Burger, you would be skilled to avoid these layouts. But it was inviting and comfortable. Most importantly, it was clean.
Now the pizza: the pizza was actually very good. It stacked up with New York’s best. However, if you are a Brooklynite prepare for a cut down portion size of mozzarella and oil. Not healthy! The best comparison might be Grimaldi’s thin crust. Naked Pizza has a similar style crust, and their fresh basil is amongst the best. If you are accustomed to flour rubbed crusts, you know how good this will taste.
My only complaint concerns the sauce: because it is health based, the fresh tomatoes made it slightly acidic, and took away from other flavors. New York pizza traditionally takes the bite off acidity with garlic notes and by adding sugar, salt, and pepper. Despite this slight taste difference, Naked Pizza is very, very good.
We here at Elite highly recommend Naked Pizza, not only for its powerful business vision, but simply because it is a high-quality food option in the 18,000 restaurant strong New York area. Watch out for Naked Pizza’s global reach though, they will surely be in a country near you by next year.
Here are Naked’s Manhattan locations:
New York (Union Square)
150 E 14th St
New York, NY
Upper East Side
954 3rd Ave
New York City, NY
Check them out at: nakedpizza.biz