How Pizza Is Crushing The $15 Salad

While many restaurants are taking a big fat hit from the pandemic, right now there's one clear winner, and it's pizza.

In the wake of this economic carnage, restaurants like Sweetgreen—dubbed a $15 salad company in this piece from Marker—are losing business like crazy. Marker reports that Sweetgreen is laying off 20% (!!!) of its corporate jobs due to these lousy times after its sales took a big dump in the eight weeks after the pandemic started, falling by 60%. I'm no mathematician, but that is not a step in the right direction.

Days of the office desk salad are gone for now. When I worked in an office in downtown Chicago, desk salad (if you know, you know) was something that happened about once or twice a week. I do not miss those cubicle salad days.

But right now, pizza is dominating. Fast food pizza is crushing it, with Papa John's recently reporting an uptick of 23.8% in quarterly same-store sales. (Not all pizza restaurants, however: in my most recent job as a pizza-slinger, our restaurant was surviving, but it was not by any means achieving the same success we had pre-pandemic. With third-party apps sapping 30% of each order along with lower sales, that's a big hit.)

That being said, pizza is quietly a business force to be reckoned with. Profit margins on pizza are larger than that on most other dishes, giving pizza restaurants more of a cushion. There's added benefits to pizza. It travels relatively well, and it also reheats well. (Pro tip from me: order your pizza uncut and slice it yourself, or reheat it in your oven until the cheese starts bubbling again. Pizzas that are pre-cut get soggy much faster and nobody wants to receive a soggy pizza.)

There's the other intangible things too. When I'm working from home the idea of getting an expensive salad delivered just doesn't have the weirdly nostalgic appeal as taking that stressed-out brisk walk down a city block to pick it up myself. A pizza for that same price always sounds way, way, better.