Last weekend, members of the Spoon University of Florida chapter were given a cheesy treat in the heart of Midtown: MOD Pizza. Situated underneath The Standard and neighbors with Bento, Chick-fil-A, and Miami Grill, MOD Pizza delivers “fast casual” pizza to the northeast side of campus.

However, it’s not their quirky pizza names and affordable pricing that draw students in: it’s the atmosphere created by the painted brick walls, the open windows that leave 13th street smelling like Italy, and the friendly employees. Here are 5 things we learned about MOD Pizza in Gainesville that you won’t find in a Yelp review.

1. Their Classic Menu Features Pizzas Named After Their Kids

Kristen Smith

MOD Pizza was founded by Scott and Aly Svenson in 2008 in Seattle, Washington. Gainesville is miles away from the West Coast, but the values of the Svenson family – and their menu names – haven’t been lost in translation. Their sons, Tristan, Dillon James, Caspian, and Jasper, all have classic pizzas named after them, and the “Maddy” pizza is named in honor of a MOD family friend who died of leukemia. MOD also goes the extra step and calls customers by their name, not a number – and you leave the restaurant smelling like a wood-fired oven!

2. MOD Pizza Views Their Business as a Platform for Making a Difference

Darya Molibog

The managers of MOD Pizza gave Spoon UF their employee handbook that outlines their company values and style of working. I actually read the manual, and to my surprise, it was engaging and the opposite of a droll code of conduct!

They tossed the phrase “Enlightened Capitalism” around and emphasized the MOD Style of Grit, Growth, Generosity, and Gratitude (the Four G’s). It’s refreshing to see a company where profit isn’t the only focus – MOD wants their employees to grow by offering new challenges and putting people first.

3. The Dough is Made Fresh EVERY DAY

Darya Molibog

We can’t write an article about MOD without talking about the bees knees, the Big Kahuna, the holy grail: the pizza! The words “Chipotle of pizza” are used often, but MOD ingredients are fresher, more varied, and melded in a way that cold Chipotle could never achieve.

The dough is airy when pressed into the platter but comes out firm and crisp at the edges. There’s no slogging through uneven carbs and burnt crust – just veggies juicy with flavor and meats that aren’t too overpowering.

4. “MOD” Doesn’t Have a Specific Meaning – It’s Up to You to Define It!

Kristen Smith

I assumed “MOD” meant Made On Demand, but the employee handbook intentionally left the definition ambiguous and malleable. According to them, “the word itself can mean many things: Made on Demand, MODify, MODernize, Master our Destiny, Make our Difference…” MOD is loose in interpretation but steadfast in quality, and it’s reflected in their very name.

5. MOD Shields Have Different Designs

Kristen Smith

The MOD Shield is their signature identifier and gives the establishment a strong, comforting image. The Shields often have different patterns, but their basic meaning is the same: safety, protection, and strength. The MOD Shield invokes Ancient Greek warriors, but there’s nothing warlike or hostile about MOD Pizza; rather, the Shield means employees look out for each other and are honored by being part of the MOD family.

Not Your Average "Fast Casual" Pizza

Darya Molibog

From the employees saying “hello” when you walk in to devouring their artisan pizzas, the whole MOD experience echoes the warmth and ease of a family dinner. Although the main competitor of MOD is Blaze Pizza, there’s something about the family-oriented nature and creative space that makes MOD a premier choice. It’s also a ripe two seconds away from the business school, so after a Business Finance or Mergers & Acquisition exam, nothing beats that fresh oregano and mozzarella. It’s MODness!