Automated Pizza Oven Concept ‘PizzaForno’ Plans to Launch Thousands of Locations in North America [Interview]

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The innovative automated pizza oven concept, PizzaForno, continues to build on its brand with 54 current locations and plans to grow to thousands of locations across North America.

The artisanal pizza is made fresh to order in three minutes and can be accessible 24/7.

Les Tomlin, co-founder and president of PizzaForno, said the company currently has 52 locations, primarily in Ontario, with many in the cottage corridor. It also has a partnership with foodservice company Aramark, which it launched in March 2020, for locations in institutional settings such as university campuses.

“Our goal is to get to 20,000 locations by 2026 and a lot of that will be driven by our continued growth in Canada post-COVID and we also launched in the US (recently). We had launched in Michigan as a trial market a year ago and now we’ve launched Houston and New Orleans. Three each and they’re on their way to 15 each by this fall. We’ve also signed San Diego. That will be launching this fall with a commitment for 50 units over the next 18 months.

PizzaForno (Ottawa – Clarence)
PizzaForno HQ on King Street (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

“We were building our business during COVID and everyone was working remotely. We never really had a head office. We only had five employees pre-COVID and now we’re 18. So we kept saying we need a downtown office. I live very close to that 225 King East location and kept walking by it and saying what a great space that was probably sitting vacant for a year pre-COVID,” said Tomlin, adding the idea was to take over the space for its corporate office for employees. 

Les Tomlin

“But we wanted to turn that great patio space into the world’s first 24/7 pizza patio. So we did that. We built the patio with tables and umbrellas. It is as far as we know the only 24/7 pizza patio in Canada where you can go get pizza any time of the day and sit down and enjoy it on a patio in the heart of downtown Toronto.”

The company was founded in 2018 by Tomlin and William Moyer.

In 2020, PizzaForno was honoured with the Restaurants Canada 2020 Innovation Award. 

“The technology around PizzaForno has actually been around in France for the better part of 15 plus years believe it or not. There’s over 2,000 operating locations, not under our brand, with the technology throughout France and some in Spain. We saw the technology there and immediately had this great idea that with a brand attached to it, this technology could have the ability to disrupt the pizza business in North America,” said Tomlin.

PizzaForno at University of Toronto – Scarborough (Image: Pizzaforno)

“It just solves so many restaurateur issues with respect to expensive real estate, with respect to labour, with respect to speed and convenience. So we had the idea. Came back to Canada and started working on the formulations for the recipes themselves for the pizzas that would appeal to a North American market. It took about eight months doing some R&D on that with a culinary team from France and we launched our first beta test unit in downtown Toronto to get all the tech systems ironed out and we had our first initial launch at our flagship store at the time which was 1235 Bay Street in Yorkville.”

In early June, PizzaForno appointed Travis Edmonson, former Vice President of Franchise Development at Mr. Gatti’s Pizza and former Vice President of Franchise Sales & Development at Marco’s Pizza, as Chief Development Officer.

Having worked with a variety of pizza brands, including Simple Simon’s Pizza, Cheezies Pizza, Marco’s Pizza, and Mr. Gatti’s Pizza, he has a proven track record of success at devising strategies in the industry. In addition, he’s worked with Pollo Campero, Gigi’s Cupcake Franchise, and ExecuFran, LLC, said the company.

PizzaForno Pembroke (Image: PizzaForno)

“We’ve built up our senior leadership team because we know we’re headed across the entire US in a short amount of time and needed the right support to take us there,” said Tomlin. “As we continue to break into major US markets, we know that Travis’s background in franchise development will turn our easy-to-scale business model into the next fastest growing pizza brand.”

“We have something the pizza industry has never seen before, as we have the units, technology and support in place to make PizzaForno a household name,” said Edmonson. “We know this small square footage required pizzeria can fit perfectly in high-traffic areas all around cities, vacation spots, universities, hospitals and more.”

PizzaForno projects to open a minimum of 50 units in the US by year end.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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