Editor's note: Another story by this freelance reporter attributed a quote to senior Jamie Conway, who was never interviewed for that story. The freelance reporter's other stories are under review and have been marked by this editor's note. She will no longer be contributing to The Diamondback. We regret the error.
By Kate Casey
For The Diamondback
As new restaurants continue popping up in College Park and its surrounding community, MOD Pizza has become the latest establishment to serve pizza in the area.
MOD Pizza, located less than a mile from this university's campus, opened Oct. 20. It sits alongside the Whole Foods, Gold's Gym and Starbucks in the newly opened Riverdale Park Station complex.
The fast-casual, build-your-own pizza chain is one of three new pizza restaurants added to the area this year, with Lotsa Pizza coming to Knox Road in July and Potomac Pizza opening in September underneath the Hotel at the University of Maryland.
Founded in 2008, MOD currently has more than 250 locations across 26 states and the United Kingdom, according to their website. The Riverdale Park location is one of the 60 locations launched in 2017, said Richard Waldo, the company's district manager.
"We're in a great location with both families looking for a fun restaurant to go out to eat at and college kids looking for pizza," Waldo said. "Everyone in a group can personalize their order, but at the same time, they are sharing their meal with others."
As the community around Riverdale Park Station is exploring the new complex, MOD is already making an impact with its neighbors. Victor Brown, 36, a Beltsville resident, said he visited the restaurant with his family on opening day, and he's since gone back two other times.
"It feels a lot more clean than the other pizza places in the area," Brown said. "It's nice to see the area getting nicer and not being as invested in the college nearby."
However, freshman Victoria Adebari, a psychology major, said she feels there's no need for another pizza place in the community.
"If my parents come to visit, I might go check it out," she said. "It isn't really a priority for me to [go to MOD], though, because Blaze and Lotsa are so much closer to campus and they are kind of the same thing."
Despite the competition nearby, Waldo says he thinks MOD will stand out in the community because of the location's increasing popularity and the establishment's "people-first mission," creating a friendly atmosphere for both customers and workers.
The company's founders, Scott and Ally Svenson, wanted each location to be an active contributor to its community, according to Waldo. MOD is known for having a universal base hourly salary of $10.50, which is more than Maryland's minimum wage sitting at $9.25. The company also provides dental and vision benefits for its workers.
Rachel Jessamy, a resident of Prince George's County and alumna of this university, said she is happy to see a business like MOD in the community.
"I was lucky to have a great experience [working] at Blaze, but it is hard to find part-time jobs that care about their workers," she said. "I know a lot of people in [Prince George's] County that would be happy to hear there are jobs available for them to also benefit as a worker."