International Franchise Expo: FUEL Pizza Owner Talks Expanding Brand

Winning Results: Restauranteur Went From Pizza Joint to Expanded Franchise

Custom FUEL Pizza
International Franchise Expo (Image: File)

With a goal to offer “real food, real pizza, real fast,” the workers at Custom Fuel seeks to make it their business to provide a service that sets them apart from your typical corner pizza spot.

“Everything we do is fresh and natural. FUEL, the pizza by the slice joint, is really great NYC pizza and wings and we win all the best awards for [it]. Custom FUEL is individual pie with a wide array of toppings all cooked in two minutes while you wait,” CEO Jeremy Wladis tells at the International Franchise Expo.

After going to hotel/restaurant school and working in the industry for a couple of years, Wladis decided to open his own pizza spot that catered to his pizza craving as a New York native living in Charlotte, N.C. In 1998, he and a few other business partners took a risk and turned a 1930s gas station in Charlotte into FUEL Pizza and as the cliché goes, “The rest was history.”

Now 16 years later, FUEL has expanded to other locations in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Washington, D.C., and has even added a “FIELD to Fork” program where they partner with schools to create “pizza” gardens that allow students to grow their own vegetables to put on their custom-made pizza. FUEL’s most recent brand expansion, Custom FUEL, offers customers the opportunity to customize their own salad and pizza by picking the crust, sauce and toppings, and having it ready to serve in two minutes.

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The latest Custom FUEL openings are in D.C. near Howard University and in Harlem off Frederick Douglass Boulevard, where the pizza brand partnered with former New York Knicks stars John Starks and Anthony Mason to bring a unique pizza flavoring to the Big Apple.

“I always feel like it’s the right thing to do. To give back and give people something that they don’t already have there. Give better options, better quality and real food,” Wladis says on why you can find both FUEL and Custom FUEL spots located in urban areas.

“We’ve sort of taken a look into areas that we think are underserved and where we think we can be the right thing to make the neighborhoods better,” he adds.

Now with more than 10 locations of FUEL and Custom FUEL combined spread across the east coast, the brand is now ready to enter the franchise business, allowing customers to invest in Custom FUEL and help bring quality pizza to more deserving neighborhoods.

“When you go into the restaurant business it’s a very difficult business, but we’ve taken out a lot of the challenges,” Wladis says regarding why Custom FUEL is a great investment for consumers. “It’s a much easier business than your typical restaurant business and we’ve set it up to be very inexpensive.”

With a customer market that reaches minorities in many urban east coast communities, an investment in Custom FUEL can help improve the standard in bringing a quality pizza and wing spot to more urban/suburban areas across the country. To find out more on how you can become an investor in Custom FUEL fill out the form on its website at