Kellogg shares insights on brand development, sustainability, and strategy for one of the nation’s leading and emerging pizza franchises.
Drew Kellogg, the President and CEO of the emerging, feel-good Oath Pizza franchise, brings a diverse resume of experience to the fast-growing brand. An alumnus of the United States Naval Academy, Kellogg has collected service time overseas and also received his MBA from Johns Hopkins University, leading him into financial advisory roles and an eventual position with Chipotle Mexican Grill. There, he served as an Executive Team Director and led the Mid-Atlantic region for nearly a decade while helping develop more than 300 restaurants and 7,000 employees.
Since joining Oath Pizza in 2018, Kellogg has furthered his vision to create a purpose-driven and talented team of leadership. Together, that team is growing Oath Pizza into a robust national brand while working to make a positive impact on the world with its better-for-you pizza, proprietary avocado oil crust, and convenient, feel-good experience.
1851 Franchise: Was there a defining moment where you knew the brand was going to take off?
Drew Kellogg: In 2014, our founder won an award at the National Pizza Expo in Las Vegas where he competed against chefs and celebrities all over the world. That was a defining moment for us because these experts confirmed our product was not only unique, but incredibly special, even on a global scale. From there, we heard time and time again that our customers had never had anything like it before. We heard things like, ‘This is the best pizza I've ever had, and I've had pizza all around the world,’ and , ‘I’d love one of these in my town!’ The wheels started turning from there and we started expanding shortly after.
1851: How has Oath Pizza been able to set itself apart?
Kellogg: Our ingredients are higher quality than traditional pizza restaurants or competing fast-casual concepts, and the way we cook our crust is revolutionary. Our crust is grilled, seared in avocado oil and topped with fresh ingredients, and it's thin, but airy with a uniquely delicious texture.
From a business perspective, we cook our pizza in one location for distribution to the rest. That provides a consistent product for our customers and saves a great deal of prep space, production time, and labor as a business.
In 2017 we began a relationship with Aramark, which began our journey into non-traditional spaces and franchising. They were looking for a pizza offering to bring into their system that appealed to younger consumers. They saw the value of our brand to Millennials and Gen Z and the efficiencies of our business model.
1851: What did you see in the pizza space that made you want to get involved?
Kellogg: Pizza is outrageously popular in the United States, and the industry itself is around a $50 billion market, but it is very fragmented. There’s a lot of independent mom-and-pop shops and we saw many opportunities to make the industry better, faster and stronger. We feel very fortunate to see what else we can do in this industry, and with proven strategies to deploy we feel that there are a lot of possibilities. It was exciting to get involved near the ground floor and is encouraging to see the interest grow as the company expands.
1851: How has the Oath Pizza brand been able to maintain such a successful marketing strategy?
Kellogg: There's a social component to what we do, and it involves leaving a better mark on our communities and with our teams. We’ve prioritized a mission to be very people-oriented, and we have continued to prioritize giving back to our communities. Our marketing strategies have taken on this attitude, and we’ve been able to connect with people extremely well.
We were forced to work almost exclusively through a delivery and takeout model for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we were also able to communicate very well with prospective clients. Our marketing team did a great job showcasing our brand despite challenges in the market and we’ve only grown stronger since.
1851: How has your executive team been able to grow the brand?
Kellogg: We have developed a world-class team. Stacie Colburn Hayes, our Chief Marketing Officer, was an integral part in designing our future as a brand and business. She not only built much of our team that supported our growth and brand evolution, but noticed a digital opportunity right away to make sure we were set-up for the future. Her team quickly implemented direct online ordering, grew our customer database, optimized third-party delivery and improved the guest and team experience. There are many other examples, but that one was important to our survival through covid and relevance in the future.
Our entire corporate team has shared similar values and contributed a great deal to getting us where we are today. That is how we’ve been able to build a scalable business and prepare for growth from this point forward.
1851: What do you see the future holds for Oath Pizza and the industry at large?
Kellogg: As a digitally-enabled fast casual, we believe that we will be able to thrive in a changing industry. Our brand and business have benefits that other restaurants don't necessarily have and we can benefit from our strengths to prevent and overcome industry challenges. For example, our model is set up to overcome labor challenges with an average 10 person team to a traditional location and the ability to operate with only 1 - 4 employees per shift.
The beauty of the pizza industry is that everybody loves pizza! You just need to go find the people and park a small restaurant in front of them. As long as we've got access and visibility, I know we're going to do well because of our brand presence, simple operations and the high quality product we offer. Our pizza speaks for itself, and it’s even easier when we’ve got strong word of mouth and interaction with our communities.
About Oath Pizza:
Oath Pizza is the Nantucket-born, feel-good pizza brand that makes it easy to eat better without giving up the foods you love. Their menu features a one-of-a-kind avocado oil crust, real, fresh ingredients, and speedy service. The brand was founded in 2015 and has grown to 28 locations across the U.S. and offers nationwide shipping via Goldbelly?.