CINCINNATI -- Kroger this summer has opened another Donatos take-and-bake pizza kiosk at a Wheeling, W.Va., store, and other retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores, have been experimenting with similar concepts, according to several sources.
Based here, Kroger appears to have taken the broadest approach to the booming category, entering into a variety of tests with at least three major take-and-bake franchisors -- Columbus, Ohio-based Donatos at Kroger locations in Ohio and West Virginia; Lone Tree, Colo.-based Nick-n-Willy's at Denver-area King Soopers locations; and Vancouver, Wash.-based Papa Murphy's at a Smith's Food & Drug location. Wal-Mart has tested similar Papa Murphy's concepts at supercenters in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, Illinois and Minnesota.
Supermarket deli departments for years have made fresh pizzas for customers to take home and bake. These franchised kiosks, however, add the appeal of customization.
"Customization is the beauty of these concepts," said restaurant consultant Dave Ostrander, Oscoda, Mich. "They set it up so that customers are right behind the glass, and they're interacting with the pizza maker the way they would [a sandwich maker] at a Subway. They can order a lot of sauce, medium or just a little sauce, for example. You can get a custom-made pizza, which you can't with a frozen pizza or even a delivery. The best take-and-bake operations will walk you right through."
The kiosks range from 200 to 350 square feet, and are operated under a variety of leasing and franchising agreements. Kroger, for example, acts as franchisee of its Donatos locations, while leasing space to the franchisees of Nick-n-Willy's, according to published reports. Wal-Mart leases space to Papa Murphy's, which sublets the space to approved franchisees.