When Michael Lastoria began conceptualizing &pizza, which rolled out in Washington, D.C., in 2012, “People looked at us like we had three heads,” he says. “They couldn’t imagine a pizza shop with no color and no food photography.” More than 20 locations later, the brand’s sophistication and detail are among its defining characteristics.
Lastoria began his first company at age 22, six weeks out of college. He co-founded a marketing and media services agency, which was sold to a private equity group in 2006, and creative agency JWALK, which was sold to Shiseido in 2017. He says the difference between product A and B often has more to do with presentation and branding than the product itself. At &pizza, where being “fearlessly weird” is embraced and the “&” represents diversity and inclusion, “We’re not reading about the trends,” he says. “We’re creating them.”