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Pizza Fusion

A focus on the environment brings in the dough for these pizza entrepreneurs.

Company: Eco-friendly, organic pizza company

Projected 2008 sales: Approximately $15 million

When Vaughan Lazar and Michael Gordon opened their organic pizza joint in 2006, it seemed like a gutsy attempt to snatch a piece of the pie from the top dogs. But the fraternity buddies were just catering to a different set of taste buds. Says Lazar, "We found a huge void in the restaurant industry for people eating organically."

Pizza Fusion not only serves up pizza, but it also delivers passion--starting with organic, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan toppings and extending to the stores' recycled blue jeans insulation, potato starch utensils and countertops made out of recycled glass soda bottles from other Pizza Fusion stores. "Everything can be reused or recycled, so our stores leave literally zero footprints," says Gordon, who adds that they often buy local products to cut down on transportation waste.

First, Lazar and Gordon studied the business practices of their role models: Newman's Own, Patagonia and Starbucks. They keep up-to-date on the newest eco-friendly products on community forums and stay true to their ultimate mission by organizing discussions to help other businesses go green.

When the duo started Pizza Fusion, they envisioned a few locations throughout Florida. But when Randy Romano, a franchise veteran, tasted the pizza and spotted the hybrid delivery cars, he knew there was plenty of dough to be made. So together, the three created the Pizza Fusion franchise early last year. Now, with six stores open, 65 sold, and plans to have 100 stores open and 300 more sold by 2010, Pizza Fusion is well on its way to becoming a pizza empire.

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This article was originally published in the May 2008 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Pizza Fusion.

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