Piada Serving Up Fresh Italian Fast

Piada has become a staple in the fast-casual food scene in Columbus in a very short amount of time. The Italian eatery offers seemingly endless ways to customize your perfect bowl of pasta or enjoy a fresh salad.

After selling his upscale Italian eateries Brio and Bravo!, owner and entrepreneur Chris Doody wasn’t ready to sit on the sidelines. He examined the market and found two standout restaurants showing consistent growth and success – Panera Bread and Chipotle. Doody looked at what made these eateries top in the industry, great product at a great value, and put an Italian twist on it to create Piada.

The original Piada on Lane Avenue in Upper Arlington has turned in to 10 Piada locations across Ohio, one in Indiana and two future stores in Michigan in a span of three years. Several factors have spurted the company’s rapid growth.

Doody spent nine months testing and perfecting the Piada concept with focus groups before even bringing the first location to market. With a solid plan in place, ensuring that people could quickly get fresh, quality food at a value, he says, “We were able to then build the subsequent restaurants relatively quickly to test within the Columbus market.”

Doody’s previous experience opening new restaurants greatly impacted Piada’s expansion. After opening over sixty Brio and Bravo! locations, to say he is familiar with the ins and outs of what it takes to open a new location is an understatement. This experience has afforded Piada the opportunity to test locations in various formats. The restaurants can be found in strip-centers, stand-alone locations or in a space where another eatery used to be.

Columbus’ vibrant restaurant scene embraced the new option for fast-casual.

“I think people in Columbus appreciate great food,” Doody says. “I think they have discerning tastes and know what we’re doing is better quality, served at value, in a cool, hip atmosphere.”

Seeing success in Columbus has given Doody the confidence to try new markets. Expanding across Ohio was the next natural progression, but he now says that most growth in the next 12-24 months will be across the Midwest.

Extensive pre-market testing has led to minimal changes in the menu since the 2010 launch as well.

“You get to mass customize your meal,” Doody says. Customers pick greens, pasta or a piada to start then pile on the add-ins. There are seven proteins, six sauces and a host of toppings to choose from.

If all those choices seem overwhelming, newer menu items like the Farmer’s Market Salad offer the same fresh ingredients, already perfectly paired. Doody says to be on the lookout for three new chef’s specials as well. He hopes a few pre-set options might help to ease customers in to the Piada experience.

With so many options, Piada has something for everybody. The restaurants are frequented by everyone from young professionals to families.

For locations and menus, visit mypiada.com.

Photo by Walker Evans.