The Campus District’s fast-casual dining scene is getting a new competitor.
PizzaRev, a California-based restaurant chain specializing in craft-your-own pizzas, will begin serving customers this spring at its new location in The Gateway, previously known as the South Campus Gateway. It is the first tenant of the space at 1607 N. High St., between Five Guys and Gamestop.
“I’m super excited for where we are going to be at,” said Branden Hershberger, the general manager for the store. “Being right there by campus is the perfect environment for our store.”
A date for the official launch won’t be publicly announced until later this month, but it will fall in either “March or April,” according to Jackelyn Miller, director of marketing and operations for Rev It Up Pizza LLC, the Ohio-based company responsible for bringing the West Coast chain to Columbus.
Although the restaurant will be PizzaRev’s first establishment in Ohio, its assembly-line style of building personalized pizzas might sound similar to that of Blaze Pizza, the off-campus eatery located roughly two blocks north on High Street.
There are parallels between the two pizza chains — like with many fast-casual Mexican food establishments — but Miller said PizzaRev has a distinctive atmosphere and taste that separates it from its competitors.
Without disclosing too much about the feel of the store, she said it “won’t look like any other PizzaRev” location, hinting at a possible mixture of its typical California-themed decor with aspects from central Ohio and Ohio State.
The food itself is what Miller believes elevates the chain from the others serving assembly-line pizza.
“I think you’ll visually be able to see the difference in our product,” she said. “PizzaRev really seeks out the freshest of the fresh and natural ingredients.”
Walk-in freezers won’t be found at the location, and the produce used to create the lengthy list of toppings will be sourced locally, Hershberger said. Topping options include ricotta cheese and arugula, two ingredients Hershberger had never thought of putting on pizzas before.
The menu will feature a trio of pies — “Craft Your Own,” “Our Way Pizzas” and an “Oreo Dessert Pizza” — as well as salads.
Not including the dessert dish, Miller said the price point is expected to be $7.99 for pizzas and salads. Her company carefully arrived at that figure knowing its clientele will largely consist of college students.
“We still want to be relatable and accessible to everyone, and we think that price point really works for this area,” she said.
Further acknowledging its presence in a college neighborhood, PizzaRev will be offering alcoholic beverages, ranging from traditional draft beers to craft brews to wine.
“I think that’s kind of an edge for us,” Miller said.
What’s more, the hours of operation for the High Street store will “almost for sure” be different from PizzaRev locations that aren’t near college campuses, according to Miller. The exact hours have yet to be set in stone, but the company is in the process of monitoring foot traffic before coming to a final conclusion.
A pair of veteran Denny’s franchisees, Jack Thompson and Thomas Pilbeam, were responsible for PizzaRev’s arrival in central Ohio.
Looking to venture into the pizza market, the duo searched for brands that were looking for franchisees to sign on and help expand. It was PizzaRev that “really clicked” with the pair.
“(Thompson and Pillbeam) really liked the style of it,” Miller said. “From the look, the taste and price — just every aspect of it.”
Both parties were interested in plunging into the Columbus pizza scene, which ultimately led to a franchising agreement for four central Ohio locations to be opened in the future.
Despite not disclosing an official day of the grand opening, Miller did offer slightly more detail about when the public can get its first taste of PizzaRev, saying it will be on a Thursday.
The Friday and Saturday will operate as usual, preluding a big promotional day on Sunday.
Any customers who stop by on that Sunday and “like” the restaurant’s Facebook page will get free pizza, she said.
Currently, PizzaRev has 30 stores in operation, 22 of which are in California. It is rapidly expanding outside of the Golden State, though. It has establishments in five other states, and by the end of 2016, Miller said the goal is to have more than 60 stores serving up fresh-cooked pizza in five more states, not including Ohio.
The OSU store will be the third near a university, joining restaurants neighboring the University of Texas and University of Colorado, Miller said.