Naked Pizza opens 1st AZ location in Ahwatukee - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Business

Naked Pizza opens 1st AZ location in Ahwatukee

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Posted: Friday, May 20, 2011 8:00 pm | Updated: 5:02 pm, Fri Jul 29, 2011.

A new concept of healthy fast food is spreading across the world and the first Arizona location opened in Ahwatukee Foothills about two weeks ago.

Naked Pizza is a company that's only 18 months old and already has 450 stores in development worldwide. Seventy new locations will be opened by the end of the year.

The idea is simple: Fast nutrition in a carry out pizza.

"You actually feel so much better after you eat it because it's got prebiotic agave fiber and probiotic bacteria, which is the bacteria that's in yogurt," franchise owner Lori Cairns said. "They developed a spore that goes around the bacteria so it makes it through the heating process. So you get all the benefits of all that stuff and that's just in the crust. Our crust isn't that white stuff."

All the nutrition packed into the crust, while still tasting good, was what resonated with Cairns and caused her to seek a franchise. She said Naked Pizza carefully selects and awards its franchises. Cairns believes she was chosen because of her work with a group in Ahwatukee for years that provides services to kids with autism.

"A lot of kids with autism have horrible gut issues," Cairns said. "They can't handle gluten and some parents will give them the prebiotic and probiotic bacteria as a supplement. When I was reading about Naked Pizza it really responded to me on that level. I did this because I wanted to bring Naked Pizza to that community and this community as well."

The pizza company tries to be conscious of different consumers. Cairns said in the kitchen different knives are used to cut gluten-free, vegetarian and pizzas with meat. While they try to be healthy and different, Cairns said they also work to make their pizza taste like any other pizza.

On the outside, Naked Pizza brands itself as a modern, sleek and quick-moving place. In the lobby, iPads allow customers to sign up for free emails or check the nutritional information. The menu is simple and easy to read, taking over an entire wall in the small store front. The employees' goal is to get the pizzas out within 15 minutes and sent right away with a delivery driver who takes only one order at a time.

"Naked means natural," said Robbie Vitrano, one of the co-founders of Naked Pizza who came up with the branding. "The name was chosen as a memorable name of course. We took two of the most popular words in the English language, ‘naked' and ‘pizza.' We really wanted a name that made you smile and signified that at its core our pizza is made with all natural ingredients, no chemicals, no preservatives, no hormones, no antibiotics."

Dee Bobel, general manager of the Ahwatukee location, has been working with pizza for about 25 years. She was working for Dominoes when she was approached with the idea and she says it's something that just fit for her.

"It wasn't just the idea of a new company but it was the idea of the prebiotics and probiotics because I have issues with that, too," Bobel said. "The whole idea of it just struck me as wonderful. To me it feels like a mom and pop pizza place because it just tastes so good and fresh."

Cairns plans to open at least two more locations in her region, which covers all of Ahwatukee and goes into Chandler and Gilbert. Vitrano says corporate Naked Pizza is moving to Goodyear soon and is planning on opening about six or seven corporate stores in the Valley. The company is excited to move to Phoenix, which they say has the best pizza market in the country.

While they grow at such a fast pace, the company is taking advantage of social media to get the word out about their company and their mission. They can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/nakedpizza and Twitter @NakedPizza. Their full menu can be found at nakedpizza.biz. The Ahwatukee location is located at 48th Street and Elliot Road, next door to Phoenix Holistic Health Center.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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