From West Hollywood to Newport Beach, Santa Monica to Calabasas, soon-to-be LAX and 12 other locations throughout greater Los Angeles, the Fresh Brothers concept for family-friendly pizza, salad, wings and other casual fare has taken off. But it is not only sprawling growth across southern California that sets Fresh Brothers apart; noteworthy leadership and strategic operations have made the company shine in the competitive upscale fast-casual sector.
Since forming in June 2008, Fresh Brothers has been voted Best Pizza in LA numerous times, including the 2012 Independent Pizzeria of the Year award from Pizza Today. In 2014, Fresh Brothers also took number 46 on Fast Casual’s list of Top 100 Movers and Shakers in the industry for an innovative line of pizza choices.
A fresh take on a piece of the pie
The California-based chain offers something a little out-of-the-box compared to typical pizza, including gluten-free crusts and skinny crusts, a kids’ special sauce, vegan cheese and even Matzah Pizza, introduced in 2013 for Passover. Although sales have increased year over year since 2008, launching a start up in the midst of recession was a risky move for founders Adam and Debbie Goldberg.
To the surprise of their family and friends the husband-and-wife duo opened the first Fresh Brothers pizzeria in 2008. “It was just about the worst time to open a restaurant,” tells Debbie, co-owner and CMO of Fresh Brothers.
“Many people around us thought we were insane – we even did at some points, but as parents of then, 3-year-old boy-and-girl twins, we looked at the market from a parent’s perspective,” adds Adam Goldberg, co-owner and CEO of Fresh Brothers. “We saw what was missing and decided we could fill the need.”
As parents and entrepreneurs, Adam and Debbie set out to build a menu that could satisfy parents and even the pickiest eaters. “One example of filling a void in the marketplace is our Fresh Kids Special, which is a blend of finely-ground vegetables blended into our pizza sauce,” explains Adam. “Kids can’t tell the veggies are there, but moms know and adults love it too.” Fresh Brother’s Kids’ Special has garnered national attention, featured on CBS’ TV show “The Doctors,” as part of a story on healthy pizza options.
“We also have made a point to offer gluten-free and vegan options,” adds Debbie. “In fact, all Fresh Brothers kitchens utilize the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness’ Great Kitchens program to ensure our gluten-free options are prepared safely, to the highest standards.”
From pleasing a picky palate to catering to customers with specific dietary needs, Fresh Brothers has become a staple for unique dining options. “Catering to customers with dietary needs is an important part of our business because it allows families and groups of friends to eat together in a way that hasn’t been readily available for a long time,” says Debbie. “We even have gluten-free Buffalo wings, chicken bites and brownies.”
Creative comfort food and healthy options
In founding Fresh Brothers, Debbie and Adam wanted to create a business that offered a little something for every customer, including classic comfort food and healthier choices. Adam says Fresh Brothers’ approach is a heavy focus on customer service, easy ordering through the use of the company’s proprietary online and smartphone app ordering system and a well operated delivery system.
“As parents, one thing we noticed before Fresh Brothers is how rare it was to get a great salad when going out for pizza,” considers Adam. “Fresh Brothers offers a huge menu with 45 items on it– fresh greens, artichoke hearts, avocado, black beans, cauliflower, pepperoncini, radish, Kalamata olives, mushrooms – you name it. Everything we make is super fresh; you won’t find any fryers or microwaves in our restaurants.”
While the salad options are a favorite, as well as the freshly baked – never fried – Buffalo wings, Fresh Brothers is most famous for its deep-dish and thin-crust pizza. “First and foremost, people love our pizza,” proclaims Debbie. Whether classic cheese, triple pepperoni, fresh vegetable, barbecue chicken, or the chain’s famous Da Works – piled high with sausage, pepperoni, mushroom, green peppers and onion – or Fresh Momma’s Favorite – loaded with spinach, mushrooms and garlic with blended pizza and pesto sauce – the options are endless at Fresh Brothers.
Fresh Brothers is always looking for new, exciting menu options, one of which is the newly released MegaGrain crust, a 50-percent whole grain crust now available with every pizza. “Consumers today are better educated which means we need to provide a variety of quality options,” measures Adam. “We will continue to prove that healthy eating can be delicious and fun.”
Another exciting menu addition is Fresh Brother’s meatball sliders, topped with pizza sauce and mozzarella on a delicious sweet roll. “People have really gone crazy for these sliders,” shares Debbie. “They’re made with our classic meatball recipe, topped with pizza sauce and mozzarella and sandwiched in a Kings Hawaiian Sweet Roll. The meatball reminds our customers of the old, family recipe they remember as a kid.”
With such a broad menu, Fresh Brothers isn’t limited to just dine-in service. “Fresh Brothers does takeout, delivery, catering and we host really popular make-your-own pizza birthday parties for kids,” adds Debbie. “For us, it was about creating a multilevel business.”
Even with so many pizza shops to choose from in Los Angeles, Debbie explains Fresh Brothers was able to hit the ground running because the business is in a category of its own. “Some of the big, national chains may set the tone in the industry, but they’re not our competitors in the same sense,” explains Adam. “There are many new quick serve, ‘design-your-own-pizza,’ concepts out there for example and they’re a great option for lunch, but they don’t do the delivery and catering or kids’ parties we do; we’re in a box of our own.”
Strong community connections and a growing footprint
Creating a multiplatform business was a key component of Debbie and Adam’s vision for Fresh Brothers, but being an active apart of the community is also a cornerstone. “We wanted to create a business that would allow us to be actively involved in our community,” says Debbie.
It is important to the Fresh Brothers team to be an integral part of the community, no matter where a location lands. “We’re proud to be an active part of the communities we do business in and we gladly offer fundraising support for schools and charitable organizations,” she adds.
Now with 12 locations running and four more on the way in 2015, including one at LAX Terminal 2, it is a race for Fresh Brothers to meet demand. “We recently opened a 7,000-square-foot commissary and main office,” reveals Adam. “We make all of the Fresh Brothers dough daily and ship it out to the individual restaurants overnight. This was a big move, giving us room for an administrative staff to provide oversight as well as a centralized location to ensure consistencies amongst all units.”
Fresh Brothers is focused on opening four new locations in 2015 and eight locations slated for 2016. However, down the road, Adam says he sees the chain’s success moving throughout the Southwest and then across the United States.
“Fresh Brothers has grown the entire time because our concept has really caught on, even in a competitive market,” says Adam. After just seven years, Fresh Brothers has secured a piece of the pie in the fast casual pizza business in Los Angeles, with a new take on classics and a fresh, healthier approach to delicious pizza, salad, wings and more.