Assembly-Line Pizza Draws Hungry Fast-Casual Investors

Photo Credit: Blaze Pizza Maria Shriver has a thing for pizza -- or at least investing in a chain that sells it.

Shriver and other cheesy-pie aficionados, including Boston Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner, Panda Express founder Andrew Cherng and “Alien vs. Predator” producer John Davis, have dropped $3 million into what they think will be the next great fast-casual dining brand: Blaze Pizza.

“We love pizza,” Shriver, California’s former first lady, said in an e-mail. “My son and I are really excited to be in the pizza business. We love this concept.”

Investors are looking at chains like Blaze as millennials flock to fast-casual eateries with prices under $10, fare that’s healthier than fast food, speedy service and sleek stores.

While this segment is the fastest-growing among restaurants, few chains are publicly traded for investors to put money into. Everyone is looking for the next Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (CMG), which has recently outperformed the dining category and is trading at the third-highest price-to-earnings ratio of all U.S. restaurants with a market capitalization of at least $150 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Chipotle’s price-to-earnings multiple is 35, compared with an average of 24 for all U.S. restaurants, the data show. Read More

Posted on February 28, 2013 and filed under Fast Casual.