Pizza Fusion

In February 2006, college buddies Vaughan Lazar and Michael Gordon started throwing around ideas for starting a side business for fun. Lazar owned a printing and design firm, and Gordon worked for a real estate company.

“He was fed up with what he was doing, and I was bored with my business,” says Lazar, CEO of Pizza Fusion. The two decided to start a pizza restaurant because they liked pizza—eating and making it—and because it made good business sense; Americans eat approximately 100 acres of pizza each day, or about 350 slices per second. It didn’t take them long to start thinking of ways they could green their dream company.

The first thing they talked about was delivering pizza in hybrid cars. But pizza and hybrids didn’t get them excited enough. “We were greedy in wanting to do more and more for a good cause,” says Lazar.

Lazar’s diet was about 20 percent organic at that time, and it didn’t take him long to realize there was a huge void in the market for convenient organic food. So that became the vision: quick, organic, delicious pizza, eaten in a family-friendly restaurant or delivered to your door in a green car.

The two opened their first Pizza Fusion restaurant in Deerfield Beach, Florida, in July 2006, and enthusiasm for their product quickly grew. They are set to launch 50 franchises across the US in 2008. Their gourmet pizza is all-natural, organic, and baked in a natural gas oven. They also offer organic salads and sandwiches, as well. Ingredients come from local markets as well as national organic distributors. But Lazar and Gordon didn’t stop there.

Lazar says they feel a responsibility to the business community and the community at large, which is reflected in Pizza Fusion’s commitment to preserving and improving the environment. Each trendy restaurant is offset by 100 percent wind power. Employees wear organic cotton uniforms, and receive health insurance for working over 20 hours a week. Pizza Fusion customers will find compostable salad containers made from 100 percent corn starch, cutlery made from sugarcane, and napkins made from 100 percent post-consumer fiber.

In 2007, Lazar and Gordon decided that every new Pizza Fusion restaurant would be built according to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standards set by the US Green Building Council.

“The food industry is one of the worst in terms of leaving a footprint on the Earth,” says Lazar. “We wanted to change that.”

With 500 requests for new franchises since March 2007, Pizza Fusion is set to continue spreading its social and environmental vision—and set to continue making delicious, organic pizza.

—Alissa Dos Santos