Need for speed

Fast/casual, adult fast food, quality quick service. Whatever you call it, Matthew Harper is serving it up as founder and CEO of Broadview Heights-based San Francisco Oven LLC.

San Francisco Oven’s menu features made-to-order pizzas cooked in a brick oven, as well as hot and cold sandwiches and freshly made salads and soups. The restaurant’s concept combines the speed and convenience of fast food with the food quality of casual dining restaurants, and prices that fall between the two.

For today’s diners, good food is a given ,but they also expect a dining experience. Harper used San Francisco and Northern California as branding elements in the new restaurant’s dcor and entre names on the menu.

“The currency of today is time and will continue to be so far into the future,” Harper says. “Those businesses that are able to provide products and services to busy consumers that save them time will be successful.”

This speed of service is so important that vice president and executive chef Eddie Cerino uses a gas-fired hearth that bakes at an extremely high temperature. This allows San Francisco Oven to prepare, bake and serve an 8-inch pizza in five to seven minutes.

“Generally, restaurants whose main menu item is pizza do not do a significant lunch business,” Harper says. “Over 50 percent of our systemwide business comes at lunch. This innovation has also been a significant factor in signing franchisees, as this is a differentiating factor in the marketplace.”

Harper and Cerino are also operating partners of Eddie’s Creekside Restaurant and Bar in Brecksville. Until they created the San Francisco Oven restaurant concept, neither of them had franchise or multi-unit experience.

There are 14 San Francisco Oven restaurants operating in Ohio, Iowa, Missouri, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina and Virginia. Harper says by year’s end, there will be 18 to 21, and there are signed development agreements to open 60 more restaurants.

HOW TO REACH: San Francisco Oven LLC, (440) 717-9450 or