At first, the area around The Mall at University Town Center seemed like the perfect place to open a pizza shop.
But after Ritesh Shah, 32, realized how much competition he’d have there, he decided to look elsewhere. In the end, he settled on a spot at 6220 14th St. W. in Bradenton. That’s where his new franchised pizza shop, 1,000 Degrees Pizzeria, will open — he hopes by July 19.
Shah grew up in India with parents in the hotel business. His family moved to the U.S. when Shah was 17, and his parents continued their tenure in the hotel business. Shah got into the liquor and retail side of food service in Pensacola, where he lived for about 10 years before moving to Bradenton two years ago. He was visiting family in New Jersey last year when he tried 1,000 Degrees pizza.
It was the restaurant’s use of Caputo 00 flour, a variety made for use in pizza dough and imported from Italy, that impressed Shah. He also liked that 1,000 Degrees doesn’t use freezers for any ingredients, resulting in a fresher product.
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“I ate their pizza and it was amazing,” Shah said. “I really loved it.”
He dreamed of being a chef and working in the food business growing up, and thought 1,000 Degrees Pizzeria and Bradenton were a good match for several reasons.
I saw Bradenton needed a place where a family can come in and have a nice dinner, and it’s quick.
Ritesh Shah, franchise owner, 1,000 Degrees Pizzeria Bradenton
“I saw Bradenton needed a place where a family can come in and have a nice dinner,” Shah said. “And it’s quick, and it’s for lunch as well. If you’re working and you only have 30 minutes for lunch, you can come in and get your pie baked in less than two minutes. So you could be in and out in 15 minutes max.”
The Neapolitan-style pizza, characterized by a razor-thin crust and short baking time in a high-temperature oven — hence the 1,000 Degrees in the name — is not meant to be delivered, Shah said, so the pizza shop will not offer delivery.
“It’s supposed to be eaten at the restaurant right when it comes out of the oven,” Shah said.
1,000 Degrees also has build-your-own salads, wings and cheesy bread on the menu.
In addition to the seven sauces, seven cheeses and more than 30 toppings to choose from for do-it-yourself pizzas, 1,000 Degrees in Bradenton is bringing in the iPourIt technology. iPourIt turns customers into their own “beertenders” by equipping them with a bracelet that’s linked to their credit card. Customers scan the bracelet at a tap before pouring beers priced and charged by the ounce. In addition to mainstream beers such as Budweiser and Bud Light, Shah plans to have more than two dozen craft beers on tap, including local varieties.
(Florida) really is a pizza state.
John Feltes, vice president of operations, 1,000 Degrees Pizzeria
The iPourIt technology appealed to him because it means he can serve beer without the overhead cost of employing a bartender.
“I researched it and realized that I can sell beer 30 to 40 percent cheaper than others do,” Shah said.
There are four 1,000 Degrees locations open in Florida, with another three, including Shah’s, set to open soon. Vice president of operations for 1,000 Degrees John Feltes said another four or five Florida locations are to follow, as well. The Sunshine State is well-positioned for pizza-franchise growth, thanks in large part to tourism.
“It really is a pizza state,” Feltes said. “That sounds really weird, but outside of New York City, one of the most dense areas is right around Orlando when it comes to pizzerias. And a lot of that is because of tourism. When you want something quick and you’re a tourist and you don’t want to spend $80 on chicken tenders inside of the resorts, calling out for pizza is pretty darn easy, and it’s reliable.”
Nationwide, New Jersey-based 1,000 Degrees Pizzeria has more than two dozen locations in 12 states, with plans to open locations in Tennessee and Maryland next.
For more information on the 1,000 Degrees Pizzeria Bradenton location and for details on grand-opening specials, visit the location’s Facebook page at facebook.com/1000DegreesBradenton/.