Two years ago, a couple of tech savvy business partners decided to take the convenience of takeout pizza to an unprecedented level and introduced Canadians to PizzaForno, the country’s first and only automated pizza oven chain, available 24/7 at the tap of a digital screen.
A year after its successful launch, local business owner, Amit Parmar, became PizzaForno’s first-ever licensee, bringing innovative technology and delicious pizza to Sudbury.
This launch in Sudbury marked a new chapter in PizzaForno’s story – this first licensee location paved the way for a business model that has flourished.
Les Tomlin, President and Co-Founder of PFX Inc., along with Will Moyer, Co-Founder of PFX and CEO of TFI Food Equipment Solutions, said working with local operators like Parmar, who also owns several convenience stores in Sudbury, has been a great experience. Not only has the reception been great, but the feedback shows that people love both the product and the unique experience.
In fact, it was so successful that within three months, Tomlin said Parmar signed on to operate four more PizzaForno units in the greater Sudbury area, creating new jobs in Sudbury during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He hires local people to run his pizza topping operation where they assemble the pizzas, box the pizzas and unload the pizzas into the units,” Tomlin said, adding that they’re not just another national chain using robots to take away jobs, and instead want to create jobs. In addition to hiring locally, all of PizzaForno’s ingredients are also sourced locally.
Since Sudbury’s launch, additional independent licensee-owned locations have popped up all across Ontario, in regions such as Port Carling, Tombermory, Oro-Medonte, Wasaga Beach, Honey Harbour and more.
What makes the PizzaForno experience different from other pizza chains?
The key to PizzaForno’s success is their innovative, low-touch food technology. At the tap of a digital screen, consumers can order a fresh 12-inch pizza, delivered by a robotic arm.
Each unit holds 70 pizzas, offering eight different menu options, including classics like Pepperoni, along with BBQ Chicken, Honey Chèvre, Vegetarian, and Meat Lovers. Once the pizza is ordered, a robotic arm delivers it from the unit’s refrigerated section to the oven, and in three minutes, the pizza is ready to take home. Each machine also has the option to select a cold pizza, which can be cooked at home in a standard oven.
The units come in three designs, with the largest unit being 8 x 10 feet. This means that PizzaForno ovens can easily be placed in a variety of convenient places including storefronts, outside of bars and restaurants, in gas station parking lots, or within schools and hospitals.
PizzaForno is COVID-19 and future proof
While Les and Will never could have imagined operating a business through a global pandemic, PizzaForno’s business model has proved to do well as there is virtually no human interaction involved.
“We were never forced to close due to the lockdown because of our low-touch environment where you’re not actually interacting with anybody face-to-face. Compared to brick and mortar restaurants that were all shut down, we were able to continue business throughout COVID,” he said.
In fact, just before the lockdown, PizzaForno partnered with Aramark, one of the world’s largest catering and food service providers, to bring fresh and nutritious menu offerings to front line workers and patients at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. Additionally, PizzaForno partnered with Petro Canada, opening a location at a Dixie Petro-Pass in an effort to help provide fresh food options for hungry truck drivers.
To ensure consumer safety, each unit gets cleaned thoroughly daily and hand sanitizer machines have been installed at each PizzaForno machine.
To celebrate its one year anniversary in Sudbury, PizzaForno is throwing a birthday bash and serving up BOGO pizzas throughout the month of September. With every pizza purchased, you’ll get one pizza for free! For more information or to find a location near you, visit their website, their Facebook page, or check them out on Instagram.