Drew Barrymore, Mariah Carey and Chrissy Teigen are among famous fans of The Pizza Cupcake, a premium frozen brand created by married co-founders Michelle Jimenez-Meggiato and Andrea Meggiato.

The handheld item features flaky brioche sourdough stuffed with mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes. The pair launched the business five years ago, initially selling the product at New York City’s Smorgasburg open-air food market and catering large corporate parties and events.

“He was baking the pizza cupcakes in a commercial kitchen in Queens, and I was working as cashier at Smorgasburg. I interacted with every single customer and got real-time feedback, which was really helpful,” Ms. Jimenez-Meggiato recalled. “It was like a real-life focus group.”

At the onset of the pandemic, the founders shifted to online orders and local delivery, eventually expanding to nationwide shipping. The startup gained national attention following an appearance on “Shark Tank” and began popping up in freezer cases at regional grocery stores.

Today, The Pizza Cupcake is available in more than 2,400 stores across the country, including Walmart, Whole Foods Market, Wegmans, Giant, Meijer, Foxtrot and others, as well as a smattering of stadiums, arenas, offices and school cafeterias. The company currently offers two styles — pepperoni and margherita — and is experimenting with additional flavors and ingredients that may extend the concept to new consumption occasions.

The frozen pizza market in the United States was valued at $6.62 billion last year and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 6.9% over the next seven years, according to Grand View Research. The increasing popularity of frozen food among younger generations seeking health and convenience is seen as a tailwind for the category and specifically products like The Pizza Cupcake.

Ms. Jimenez-Meggiato and Mr. Meggiato discussed the origins and evolution of the company in an interview that has been edited for length and clarity.

Food Entrepreneur: How did you come up with this idea?

Andrea Meggiato: It really all started with a pizza date. I was born and raised in Venice, Italy, and came to New York as a chef in 2006. When I met Michelle in 2015, my first pickup line was “Want to go on a date for pizza?”

I wanted to show her what I could do. She initially thought we were going to go out and get a slice. I set up my whole apartment to create pizza together.

Michelle Jimenez-Meggiato: When he was making these little pizzas, it sort of reminded me of the Bagel Bites I used to eat growing up. He had never had Bagel Bites before, which I thought was pretty strange, so when he tried it, he said, “I can’t believe this is what you grew up eating.” For me, it was a household staple.

So, we just saw an opportunity with the Pizza Cupcake as an item that’s more premium. It’s made with real ingredients and quality ingredients, but at the time it was just our dish that we would bring for friends and family.

Mr. Meggiato: Before Smorgasburg, we did catering, and the biggest thing that gave us the confidence, our first customer was Instagram. They invited us to do one of their parties in Los Angeles. They were the first paid customer we had.

What happened to your business when the pandemic hit?

Mr. Meggiato: Everything went to zero. We had to figure out how to pivot to e-commerce, how to build a website to do the ordering.

Ms. Jimenez-Meggiato: Before everything shut down, we had all the ingredients we invested in and didn’t want to discard. It was the health care workers who really wanted this… At the time everyone came together, small businesses were helping each other… and we got some media coverage that was helpful.

What happened on “Shark Tank”?

Ms. Jimenez-Meggiato: We closed a deal with Lori Grenier; she’s our Shark. She’s been great, super helpful.

After airing on “Shark Tank,” we did $1 million in sales right after. We were on pre-order for three months. It gave us a lot of visibility in front of millions of people, which was great, and it also helped us formulate our go-to-market strategy for retail.

How has your foodservice business recovered in the past two years?

Ms. Jimenez-Meggiato: Thankfully everything is somewhat back to normal. Last year we saw a comeback … and stadiums and arenas were back to normal capacity in terms of attendance.

We’re also focused on schools. We have a partnership with a local school provider… they serve the Pizza Cupcake on the menu at a combination of charter and private schools. We also created a 51% whole grain cupcake that meets the national school program nutritional requirements, so we’re actively looking for next year for the Pizza Cupcake to be on school lunch menus in public schools. I feel like sky’s the limit with Pizza Cupcake.

Mr. Meggiato: It’s fully baked already, so chefs thaw it, throw it in the oven for a couple of minutes, and it’s ready to be served. We can see this really doing well at Starbucks but also Disney parks, airlines, airports.

What is your long-term vision for the business?

Ms. Jimenez-Meggiato: We would love for the next generation to grow up eating Pizza Cupcake and to create that household staple, where you have friends coming over after school, and what’s mom or dad preparing? Pizza Cupcake. Birthday parties, holidays, Super Bowl parties… We want to become part of every occasion where you’re creating memories and special moments. That’s how it started for us. It was our first date. We had Pizza Cupcake at our wedding. It’s been part of every special moment for us.