Xavier University is winning the hearts of campus pizza lovers with a recent addition to a residence hall. The university put a Pizza ATM in Fenwick Place that serves up a fresh, restaurant-quality pizza in minutes. The bonus: it's open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"We were looking for a way to solve this problem of having a late-night pizza option on campus," Assistant Vice President Jude Kiah said. "This meets our students where they’re at in their residence hall."
Kiah said this pizza vending machine was a cost-effective and innovative way to make students happy and satisfy their cravings. The machine's cost was $55,000.
"We like the idea of being first and innovative and trying something new," he said. "There’s one Pizza ATM in the U.S. and this is it." Late-night pizza is a staple of college life and with this hot commodity, Fenwick Place might be the most popular place on campus this fall.
How it works
Xavier's dining service makes hundreds of artisan pizzas every day and 70 of them will go into this machine at a time.
Customers simply walk up to the machine and select which type of pizza they want. They'll have a few options to choose from including pepperoni, cheese and veggie, but those will vary based on what's popular.
The machine takes the pizza they select from a refrigerated compartment and lifts it into a convection oven.
After about three minutes, the pizza is done cooking and the machine drops it into a box that is then delivered through a slot and into the hands of the hungry student.
A medium pizza has a 12-inch diameter, similar to what a customer could get at places like Domino's, and costs $9.
When the machine is getting low, employees are notified through their phones and can refill the machine before it is empty.
"It's an idea that's time has come," Kiah said.
The pizza ATM has a long history in Europe, but Xavier is worked with Greater Cincinnati-based company Paline to bring the machine to campus. Paline is the exclusive North American distributor for the Pizza ATM, which is manufactured by French company Adali.
Kiah said the Pizza ATM is a great option because labor costs are much lower than with other retail vendors and they don’t have to pay to operate a storefront. So far, the machine has been very reliable.
Later this month, it will get a big test once students return to campus en masse for the new school year.
How does it taste?
With four national awards in its residential dining program in recent years, Xavier wasn’t going to sacrifice quality for convenience.
Paline owner Alec Verlin said bringing the equipment to Xavier required the creation of a "pizza institute." A chef from France was brought to the university and employees completed 40 hours of training with the goal of establishing quality control. The food preparation workers were encouraged to start using better ingredients and techniques. Later, they mastered the pizza-making and machine operations so the pies out of the ATM would be similar to ones coming out of high-quality pizza ovens, he said.
"This machine delivers a pizza which is really second to no other pizza I’ve had,” Kiah said. “It’s serving the exact same quality pizza that’s in the dining facility."
The Pizza ATM delivered its first pizza to the women's soccer team Wednesday, but it is still in the testing phase. It will be open for business by the time students come to campus in late August.