Background / Challenge:
In 2010, two NYC entrepreneurs – Michael Lastoria and Steve Salis – approached WANT Branding to create a name for a new type of fast-casual pizza restaurant.
The founders were passionate about creating a unique brand that was design-drive, brand-led and – above all – “morally sound”. Lastoria and Salis wanted to create a company that was built to serve and reflect the communities where it would exist. Each store would be designed a little differently and would adhere to four core values: 1. Celebrate oneness, 2. Make it personal, 3. Keep it fresh and 4. Elevate everything.”
The pizza itself would be different in shape and size than most pizzas. Each pizza would be oblong, about 18 inches long by 6½ inches wide. The ingredients and toppings would also differentiate the business from its competitors, both regionally and nationally.
After developing hundreds of name ideas the team selected &pizza. The unique ‘ampersand’ (&) has helped to evoke the user in the experience of buying and consuming pizza as enabling the brand to extend into a range of adjacent products in store: &tea, &wine, &snacks and &soda.
The brand’s first store location opened on H Street in Northeast Washington. Today the &pizza brand has 36 locations across DC, Maryland, NY and NJ. Inspired by CEO Michael Lastoria (who looks more like a rock band lead singer than a pizza entrepreneur), &pizza employees call themselves “a gang of rebels” To show loyalty to the brand, some employees have even tattooed the &pizza ‘ampersand’ on their bodies.