Chipotle is one step closer to taking over the pizza industry

Chipotle has been quietly growing a pizza chain in Denver and Boulder for several years.

Now, the company will expand to Kansas City and Cincinnati, executives announced on a conference call with analysts.

Pizzeria Locale offers customisable pies cooked before customers’ eyes in less than two minutes, and has become popular in the area, reports Patricia Calhoun at the Denver Westword Blog.

The pizza chain was originally a traditional restaurant, until Chipotle founder Steve Ells visited three years ago, writes Sarah Nassauer at The Wall Street Journal.

“‘When I walked in, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, what if they did this in a Chipotle format?'” Ells said.

The Mexican chain spent the next 18 months helping the pizzeria adapt to a faster format with a rotating hot oven and affordable ingredients.

“We realised we could change the ways people think about pizza…how can we serve the same ingredients at less than half the price. Shockingly, it’s worked,” Ells said.

The experience at Pizzeria Locale is similar to Chipotle, WSJ reports.

“Diners standing in line choose from toppings like fresh mozzarella and prosciutto while watching their food being made,” Nassauer writes. “Individual 11-inch pies cost around $US6.50 and take a few minutes to make. Diners pay at the counter.”

So-called “better pizza” chains like Lebron James-backed Blaze have been competing to get a share of the booming fast-casual market.

Here are some photos of the pizza chain:

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