This is not your average pizza place.

For starters, a Pizza Fusion delivery guy drives a Toyota Prius hybrid. That pizza, salad or sandwich also is made of organic ingredients.

Pizza Fusion combines organic with eco-friendly
                                              Courtesy Pizza Fusion
The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Pizza Fusion chain of restaurants uses a variety of fresh produce for its salad, sandwich and pizza offerings, and as much of it as possible is organic and locally sourced, says Eric Haley, vice president of communications.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Pizza Fusion has gone national with its mission, “Saving the Earth, One Pizza at a Time.”

“Right now, locationwise, we have 21, with several in development,” said Eric Haley, vice president of communications.

Pizza Fusion requires its locations to be certified organic and its menu is at least 75% organic, with as much local sourcing — especially produce — as possible.

Importance of produce

Depending on the size of the store, a Pizza Fusion spends about $600 to $1,400 a week on fresh produce, said Ashley Rathgeber, who is in charge of procurement for Pizza Fusion.

Pizza Fusion uses arugula, romaine hearts, tricolor peppers, onions, sundried tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, roma tomatoes, garlic, portabella mushrooms and spinach.

Initially, when the company launched in February of 2006, ensuring adequate organic supplies was tough, Rathgeber said.

“Now it’s not too hard,” she said. “Sometimes it’s tough when we open up in a new market. Texas, for example, is a difficult market to source organic.”

For its local sourcing Pizza Fusion turned to community supported agriculture in some markets, like its Naperville, Ill., location.

“Our restaurant is the only commercial facility to contract everything that he grows for the summer,” she said.

The company also works with San Juan Bautista, Calif.-based Natural Selection Foods, which markets under the Earthbound Farm brand.

“We work really closely with Earthbound Farm,” she said. “We have a lot of their products in our stores. When there are shortages in the Southeast we usually ship products from the West, but we try to do that as little as possible.”

Environmentally friendly

Pizza Fusion’s focus on environmental stewardship and sustainability also is unparalleled.

In addition to a fleet of hybrid delivery cars, the company builds all of its restaurants to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.

It also uses eco-efficient products and techniques such as recycling heat from the ovens to heat the water in their restaurants, using countertops made from recycled detergent bottles, ceiling tiles made from recycled aluminum cans and seat cushions made from soybean oil. 

Expansion plans continue despite the downturn in the economy, Haley said.

“We’ve got a pretty unique concept and people have certainly been attracted to it,” he said.

This article was featured in The Packer's annual Foodservice section, published June 29. For more stories about the foodservice sector, visit www.thepacker.com/foodservice.