Restaurant Business: Meet the 'Jesus of Pizza'

By Peter Romeo
Restaurant Business, Aug. 15, 2017

With shoulder-length hair, a bushy beard, the lankiness of a street messiah and the clothing to match, Michael Lastoria looks more like the lead from “Jesus Christ Superstar” than CEO of a pizza chain aiming to stretch capitalism’s possibilities. ...

You won’t hear any “thee’s” or “thou’s,” but the rationale behind Lastoria’s brainchild, &Pizza, doesn’t abound in the usual chain lingo. The company’s workforce is “the tribe,” a group whose members are known to tattoo themselves with the ampersand to show solidarity with the brand. ... Managers are “shop leaders,” collaborators on special events or co-branding opportunities are “little giants,” and don’t call the chain’s 22 branches “units.” Each is a “pizza shop,” with its own design and personality.

The language is a reflection of Lastoria’s efforts to make the chain a different place to work and eat. More dramatic are efforts like lobbying for a $15 minimum wage and working toward that goal society-wide with a coalition called Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. ...

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