The founder of a "trampoline fun center" is now trying his hand at fast-casual pizza.
Jerry Raymond, who founded Sky High Sports with brother Ron, has now launched Top This Pizza Co., a pizza chain where customers order toppings much like burrito lovers order at Chipotle.
"I just love the idea," Raymond said of the new venture, Top This Pizza Co. "It's fast pizza that you can build yourself with good, fresh ingredients."
Sky High Sports, which has locations in seven states, might seem like a far cry from the restaurant business, but Raymond said his new project was actually a natural outgrowth from the small cafes housed at each Sky High Sports location.
For a flat $8, Top This customers move down the line at a counter and select toppings for a 10-inch pizza. The company makes traditional and wheat crust daily, with an additional gluten-free option and several types of sauces also available. Vegetables are grown in the state of California.
The first Top This Pizza is slated to open as soon as Friday in a shopping center at 15466 Los Gatos Blvd. Raymond is targeting a second restaurant opening in the Oakridge and Blossom Hill area of San Jose in early 2014 and a third location in the Highway 280 and Winchester Boulevard area by the end of the first quarter of next year.
All told, the company could open up to five stores in the next year, he said.
"The fast-casual market in general — the Chipotle model, as it were — is so hot right now" said Raymond, who lives with his family in Scotts Valley. "The pizza market is also still growing."
The sector of the food market that includes pizza, from delivery to dine-in to frozen options, is valued at as much as $40 billion, according to a 2012 survey by market research company Packaged Facts. And other businesses in the field, such as Southern California's Pieology — which uses the same model of custom pizzas ready in five minutes or less —are also breaking into the Silicon Valley market.
In addition to the build-your-own-pizza option at Top This, the company also will sell $8 specialty pizzas named after family members of Raymond and his business partner and wife, Yovette. Yovette previously served as general manager of the San Jose Cinemark movie theater, where she oversaw concessions — experience that she now hopes to parlay into the restaurant business.
The Raymonds say they are focused on serving both family and daytime business lunch crowds, and believe that the price point and options to customize orders, as opposed to paying for one large pizza, will set Top This apart.
"I try to keep it as affordable as possible without putting us under," Jerry Raymondsaid. "We're shooting for both the concept getting that initial interest, then of course it's the delivery of the product."
The first store in Los Gatos is 1,200 square feet with additional patio seating. Raymond said the second store in San Jose is slightly bigger at 2,500 square feet, but that the restaurant will offer both in-store dining (without table service) and take out options.