New restaurants, expanding menu on Piada's plate

Jul 25, 2017, 1:29pm EDT

Dan Eaton Staff reporter Columbus Business First

Grove City will get the next local Piada, but that’s far from the only new Piada.

The Columbus-based fast-casual restaurant is opening its first new Central Ohio site in years, but that Grove City space isn’t coming online until next year.

Piada has eight more restaurants opening in the next six months.

The growing brand is plenty busy in the meantime. Grove City is the eighth coming-soon location in the pipeline. Between August and November, the company expects to open seven new restaurants in four of its existing markets — one each in Houston, Dallas, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh and a trio in the Cleveland area (Akron, Parma and Chagrin Falls).

“For a company our size, that’s a really high clip,” Matt Eisenacher, vice president of marketing and brand development, told me. “We’re really focused on building out our core markets, building brand awareness, getting greater labor efficiency.”

Pittsburgh is the newest market for Piada, having opened its first restaurant there in the Oakland neighborhood in January with another opening in Northway in the coming months.

“That market has been above and beyond our expectations,” he said.

Piada maintains a low profile, though it still is drawing national attention. The company was singled out by trade publication Restaurant Business as one of its Future 50 fast-growing brands. Central Ohio-based Pies & Pints and City Barbeque also made that list.

Grove City will be the 44th restaurant for the chain, which was founded byrestaurateur Chris Doody in 2010. Fueled by a pair of private equity infusions from Greenwich, Connecticut-based Catterton Partners in 2013 and 2015, the chain has almost tripled in size since that initial investment.

The menu — built around the wrap-like piada and flanked with salad, pasta and its Tasca sandwiches — will go through another evolution this fall. Though the create-your-own model the company opened with still is an option, featured menu items now account for about 80 percent of sales, Eisenacher noted. There will be more options on that front, including some new creations.

“You’re going to see us start to do things outside these formats,” he said. “We want to bring some unexpected food and experiences to our customers.”

Eisenacher also said the company will test some operational tweaks at its Easton restaurant later this year meant to create more flexibility in the kitchen while not sacrificing any speed of service.

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