I ate at MOD Pizza, America’s fastest-growing restaurant chain, and saw why it’s miles ahead of the competition

Every aspect of my MOD experience impressed me.

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Every aspect of my MOD experience impressed me.
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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

  • MOD Pizza is America’s fastest-growing restaurant chain.
  • I went to the MOD Pizza in Bellevue, Washington, to see what the dining experience was like.
  • I was impressed by the food’s customizability, the ingredients’ freshness and quality, and the efficient yet personal assembly-line format.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

MOD Pizza, based in Seattle, is the fastest-growing restaurant chain in America in terms of US systemwide sales, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. It saw 44.7% sales growth in 2018.

MOD Pizza was founded in 2008 by a wife-and-husband duo, Ally and Scott Svenson, who noticed a need for casual, speedy, and healthy pizza options.

As a teenager, I ate at the location in my hometown’s strip mall, way back when MOD was a local Seattle chain. It was exciting because it was the first pizza place I’d been to that served fully customizable personal pizzas.

Since then, MOD has become an international phenomenon, with over 400 locations across the US and the UK. It has also fully embraced a purpose-driven business model, with a focus on hiring for impact and investing in its staff’s professional growth.

Read more: I just ate at Texas Roadhouse for the first time, and it lived up to the hype

It had been years since I’d eaten at a MOD Pizza, so when I went home to Seattle I decided to stop in and investigate what was behind its meteoric rise in popularity.


I made my way to the MOD Pizza in Bellevue, one of the chain’s oldest locations.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

To avoid the crowds, I went soon after the restaurant opened for the day.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

But I wasn’t even the first customer.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

A board at the door advertised local community events and art.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The menu emphasized the pizzas’ customizability.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

You can create your own pizza from scratch, or select from predesigned combinations. It’s priced by size, so toppings don’t cost extra.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Each MOD location sells local brands of beer.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The dough is prepared by a MOD team member and stored in racks ready for immediate use.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

At the line, a friendly and helpful team member assembled my pizza.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

I chose a base of red sauce and mozzarella, with pepperoni, spicy chicken sausage, artichokes, mushrooms, and onions.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

I had a hard time choosing because I wanted to put everything on my pizza.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Read more: I tried the growing cult-favorite California chain that makes the ‘best burger in America’ – here’s the verdict


When I asked for advice, my pizza artist told me she liked to “keep it simple.” I tried.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

I did ask for all the spices though: salt and pepper, rosemary, and oregano.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The pan man slid my pizza into the oven.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

I also ordered a simple salad with balsamic dressing.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Tragically, I didn’t realize until later that my salad, like my pizza, was completely customizable.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

At the checkout, I grabbed a No Name Cake and an Alaskan pale ale on tap. I declined to finish my pizza with a drizzle of sauce.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

By the time I was done ordering, the joint had begun filling up.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

My order included a custom MOD pizza, garlic strips, an entree-size simple salad, a No Name Cake, and an Alaskan pale ale.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

MOD PIZZA — I started with the pizza, still hot from the oven.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The crust was thin but crispy, and the toppings were generous.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Read more: I ate the same meal at both Texas Roadhouse and Outback Steakhouse, and one was the clear winner


Each slice was heavy with toppings, but it didn’t feel overloaded with grease or carbs.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

I was impressed by how light yet sturdy the crust was and how high-quality the individual toppings were.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

I wasn’t sure if artichoke was the right call for a red-sauce pizza. On my next trip, I might experiment with different toppings.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

But aside from the artichoke, the pizza tasted good and felt healthy.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

GARLIC STRIPS — This was basically a round of pizza dough slathered with garlic topping and baked.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The strips were surprisingly thin and light, though I’m not sure what I expected.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

It was made from the same dough as the pizza’s crust.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

I chose a pesto dipping sauce to go with the strips.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The strips weren’t quite as bready as I wanted, but the garlic flavor was perfect, and pesto was definitely the right choice of sauce.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

SIMPLE SALAD — I regretted not customizing my salad, because all that was in this were mixed greens, roasted red peppers, and asiago cheese.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

But I really should have had more faith in MOD.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Read more: I ate everything at the Costco and Ikea food courts, and there’s one big reason why you should go to one over the other


These ingredients actually worked quite well together. It was simple, yes, but satisfying.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

NO NAME CAKE — Finally, it was time for dessert.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

I’m not sure why MOD didn’t bother giving the No Name Cake a name. It’s essentially an elevated Hostess cake. I’d call it the “MOD-ified Ding Dong.”

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

It’s a moist, pillowy chocolate cake filled with cream and coated in chocolate.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The chocolate on the outside was a bit dry, but the cake inside was practically juicy. I wasn’t all that sure about the cream inside — I would have preferred more chocolate. But I was far from disappointed.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

I was so preoccupied with my food that I almost forgot about my beer.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

DRAFT BEER — It was cold and crisp, and it paired well with the carbs on my plate.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

I struggled to make it through my beer, as I’d ordered enough food for two people. Next time, I’ll bring a friend.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Every aspect of my MOD experience impressed me. The assembly-line format allows employees to be experts at their jobs. The layout of the restaurant streamlines the dining process from ordering to cleanup. But most importantly, the food was fresh and delicious, and it made me feel good.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider