800 Degrees Pizza CEO Steve Overholt says his secret ingredient is adding a “real chef”
By Jessica Koslow
800 Degrees Pizza is on fire. In the last five years, two have popped up in Las Vegas, seven in Dubai, one in Tokyo and six in Los Angeles, including their newest restaurant last month in Runway at Playa Vista.
The concept is simple: fast, fresh, authentic Neapolitan-style pizza. And people are eating it up. Steve Overholt, CEO of 800 Degrees Pizza, shares a few secrets of their success.
What’s the philosophy behind 800 Degrees Pizza?
Our chef/founder Anthony Carron developed the concept during a dream almost six years ago. The fast-casual, build-your-own segment was gaining popularity with consumers all across the country. Nobody was doing it with pizza. He set out to develop a concept where he could serve authentic Neapolitan-style pizza using premium ingredients and cook it in 90 seconds.
Customers get to choose the base they want and then top it with a selection of over 25 premium toppings. If they prefer, they can choose from one of the 10 Chef Specialty Pizzas that Anthony has crafted. Once the choices are made, they can watch their pizza make its way to one of the wood burning ovens, where it cooks at 800 degrees for about 90 seconds. The philosophy is chef food fast using only the highest quality ingredients.
Why did you pick Playa Vista for your latest location?
Playa Vista is the ideal community for us. It has a great mixture of office, residents and retail. There is a great mix of both lunch and dinner business. Lots of families and dogs out walking. It’s a very active area with a strong sense of community.
How did you meet Anthony Carron?
[My business partner and I] came out to L.A. looking for a fast casual pizza franchise to develop in Ohio about a year and a half ago. 800 Degrees was not really on our radar at the time. We looked at several concepts but didn’t really see what we were looking for. Then we walked into 800 Degrees and immediately liked it. After we sampled almost the entire menu, we loved it.
Anthony happened to be in the restaurant that day, and we were introduced to him. The relationship started building, and we ended up making a strategic investment. It took a year to put the deal together. We closed it in May, and we’ve been off and running since then.
What does the future look like for 800 Degrees Pizza?
We will begin offering franchises in the near future. We just signed a development deal with a group in Miami for 10 stores in South Florida and several others in early stages. We are looking to grow company locations in California and Texas next year.
What’s the secret to 800 Degrees Pizza’s success?
We have a real chef. Everything is fresh. We use only premium products. We don’t use dough presses. Our dough is formed and stretched by hand. Our dough has no sugar or oils added. It’s made up of only four ingredients: water, salt, yeast and 00 flour (also called doppio zero flour). We have incredible salads made withall fresh cut ingredients.
Anthony was the executive chef with the Michael Mina Group for many years. He is in the restaurants every day when he’s not traveling. This is his dream, his baby. His passion is contagious.
800 Degrees Pizza is at 12751 W. Millennium Drive, Ste. b135. Call (424) 379-1001 or visit 800degreespizza.com.