Are Flatbreads Your New Competition?

Flatbread booths numbered in the dozens at
the National Restaurant Association show in Chicago.
Photo: Liz Barrett

Remember when you only had to worry about the pizzeria down the street as competition? You may have noticed more non-pizza restaurants adding flatbreads to their menus. Subway has had them for a few years now, and Chili’s just recently rolled them out systemwide. At Chicago’s National Restaurant Association show, I couldn’t walk 10 feet without coming across another flatbread company. Flatbreads are the easiest way for any restaurant to add a pizza-type item to its menu, and the trend is clearly in full swing.

So what are you doing to stay ahead of the bar down the street that used to just sell burgers and is now offering flatbread appetizers that compete against your pizza menu? What about the steak restaurant around the corner that’s showcasing gourmet flatbreads three nights a week?

The fact of the matter is, with ready-made flatbreads, any restaurant can now be your competition. Consumers love pizza, whether it’s thick, thin, folded into a calzone or on top of flatbread. If they just ate a flatbread at the seafood joint across the street two nights ago, what are the chances they’re coming to your pizzeria tonight?

In order to compete, as well as satisfy customer wants for lighter menu options, many pizzerias are now offering flatbreads on appetizer and lunch menus. You may want to consider starting out small by testing flatbread variations for lunch before adding them to the permanent menu; this will allow you to assess their popularity and test out different topping combinations.

What’s your take? How many restaurants in your area, pizza and non-pizza, currently offer flatbreads? Let us know in the comments.