Have you ever rocked up in a popular marina, moored your luxury yacht and established what delights welcome you? Us neither. Strolling down to Brighton Marina, my companions and I already knew what tempting treats awaited us. Sat on the smart new West Quay concourse, the first phase of an extensive expansion project, is the alluring sight of MOD Pizza. A bold, light and airy place with a friendly vibe, it’s only the second UK premises for this popular US chain. As we enter, there’s instantly a sense this is just a little bit more than your normal restaurant.
We’d noticed the word ‘superfast’ adorning the outside, which is obviously an ethos at MOD. There’s no sitting and waiting patiently for someone to notice us. We can begin ordering our meal almost immediately at the long and bustling counter. First selecting an artisan pizza base, we then choose between a white or red sauce to cover it. A concoction from over 30 different pizza toppings follows, each liberally sprinkled over the rich dough. There are also plenty of sides and drinks to tempt, as we politely shuffle down the line. If you don’t want to ‘make your own’ then there’s plenty of regular combinations to suit every taste. This might make the experience less of a fuss, but we found it much more enjoyable to confuse ourselves (and maybe the staff!) as we tried to outdo each other’s creations. To make matters simpler, every pizza or succulent salad is the same price – £7.47, no matter how complex or outlandish your ambitions might be.
Now, if there’s one thing America does well, it’s restaurant service and MOD Pizza perfectly aligns to this proud tradition. There are certainly no futile, embarrassing attempts to engage with moody-looking waiting staff. Every employee is completely intent on making your visit perfect. Even the cooking times are agreeable. Less than ten minutes after walking in through the door we’re sat with cooling pints of tap-drawn Punk IPA and Estrella and some sensational pizzas before us.
The restaurant’s interior has heaps of personality, drawing heavily by the Americana and mod culture that inspired the chain. Acknowledged as America’s fastest growing restaurant, it’s easy to see why this new pizza experience is popular. “Brighton was such an obvious choice for us with its vibrancy and energy and its position within mod culture,” MOD director of operations, Chris Schultz, tells us. “The ethos of MOD Pizza fitted perfectly with the beliefs of Brighton – individuality, love and respect.” He and his team are intent on making MOD Pizza an inspired place. In America the chain has even been named by Fortune Magazine as one of the ‘20 Best Workplaces in Retail’ for its progressive hiring practices and career growth opportunities. The concept of happy staff bringing in happy customers is a simple one, but something so many places seem to get wrong.
While the staff are charming, the pizzas themselves are flavoursome, rich and with a well turned out crispy base. The MOD Pizza red sauce is a particular standout, miles ahead of anything you’d find in a supermarket chiller. But it’s unsurprising each one is cooked to perfection, when you notice the enthusiastic group of staff huddled around the 300®C oven. Each of their creations offers the perfect combination of tastes and flavours. Spirits are high. Some of the company’s American employees are over to train the new staff. There are no cheerleaders about, but the atmosphere is unwaveringly bright and breezy. With a friendly vibe, style and some great food, it was a unique experience. We didn’t just love eating at MOD Pizza, we secretly quite fancied working there…
MOD Pizza is at 1 The Boardwalk, Brighton, BN2 5ZB
By William Clay.