By Craig Patterson
An automated pizza concept has launched in Canada and it plans to disrupt the industry as it grows rapidly. The first ‘flagship’ location in North America for ‘PizzaForno’ was unveiled last week in Toronto’s Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood, and its goal is to expand to as many as 200 locations by the end of 2019.
The concept is similar to a vending machine that makes pizzas on the spot, which can be purchased cooked or frozen to heat at home. It was tested recently in Toronto’s Entertainment District prior to securing permanent locations.
The PizzaForno food tech innovation was created in France, producing fresh artisan pizzas that are ready in under three minutes. Customers can choose from four selections on a digital screen (including Chèvre-miel, BBQ Chicken, Pepperoni, and Mozzarella) with more options to be introduced next year.
The 12-inch pizzas are made by hand with an ‘authentic Italian approach’ that includes a romana crust, locally sourced ingredients that are said to be natural and fresh, as well as quality cream-based and tomato sauces. Prices range from $11 to $14 for each pizza, including HST.
“PizzaForno will cause a pizzaruption in Canada because it’s the height of food tech and convenience offering uncompromising, authentic pizzeria quality 24/7 – with no tipping required,” said Les Tomlin, President of PFX Canada Inc.
Each PizzaForno location holds 70 12-inch pizzas, which are crated using hand-stretched crusts made from Italian Caputo flour. The pizzas are freshly topped and stored in the refrigerated section of the PizzaForno. After a customer orders from the 32-inch interactive screen, a robotic arm takes their selection from the refrigerated section, conveys in to a patented oven where it is baked, placed in a box and delivered to the customer. Below is a video showing how it all works.
PizzaForno partnered with Regina-based FrontRunner Technologies for the new Bay Street location. FrontRunner is responsible for immersive digital content on the 20-feet of windows fronting onto Bay Street. We recently featured FrontRunner Technologies in Retail Insider, as the innovative company has been animating vacant store windows on urban street fronts in cities such as Vancouver and Toronto, with further expansion ongoing.
The Bloor-Yorkville PizzaForno is located just north of the Calii Love restaurant at 1235 Bay Street (between Cumberland Street and Yorkville Avenue), occupying a relatively small amount of real estate in the front part of a retail space formerly occupied by a Persian rug retailer. The busy neighbourhood includes a mix of locals and visitors. Rapidly growing Bloor-Yorkville will see thousands of new residential units added over the next five years, and it is already a significant employment node for the city, as well as a popular (and in some cases high-end) shopping district.
There are also other food options in the immediate area, including pizza restaurants such as Pi Co. which is located directly across the street. The PizzaForno’s value proposition includes speed as well as 24/7 availability, and it could take some market share away from competitors.
PizzaForno’s rapid expansion continues this week with the Monday opening at the Dixie Outlet Mall in Mississauga. The location will be PizzaForno’s first in North America in a mall, located in the food court area. The expansion will continue into January by opening in 20 PenguinPickUp retail locations, as well as additional retail and office locations in the Greater Toronto Area.
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Mr. Tomlin said that he will first focus on the Toronto area initially before expanding the concept into other parts of Canada. The goal is to have about 200 PizzaForno locations in the country before the end of 2019. PizzaForno is working with Suzanne Cayley, Vice President of Speciality Leasing at Aurora Realty Consultants on the expansion. Ms. Cayley explained via email to Retail Insider that PizzaForno is able to accommodate short and long-term locations on street-fronts, in enclosed malls, mixed-use buildings and residential buildings. Required square footage is generally only between 65 and 100-square-feet.
PizzaForno was first on our radar when we attended the International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC) Toronto Convention in October of this year. The technology was demonstrated and free pizzas were given away as samples, and the exhibit was very popular. Mr. Tomlin explained that Aurora Realty Consultants had been retained for PizzaForno’s expansion about a week before the Toronto conference.
Entrepreneurs Les Tomlin and William Moyer are responsible for introducing PizzaForno to Canada. The concept is based on technology from SAS Adial (based in Liseux, France). TFI Food Equipment Solutions from Brampton is the exclusive distributor partner in North America for Adial.
Craig Patterson, now based in Toronto, is the founder and Editor-in-Chief Retail Insider. He’s also a retail and real estate consultant, retail tour guide and public speaker.