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Your Pie will reach out to multiunit franchise operators of other restaurant brands capable of building out entire markets from cash flow or of getting financing.

“The business model works for multiunit franchisees, and in some of these larger cities we can attract the right franchisees,” Barr said. “We’re looking for people who have hospitality experience and the capital to develop out markets. But we don’t want to discount that we also believe there will be a variety of sites open for single-store franchisees, where local ownership and management can make even more of a difference.”

Of significance to potential single-unit operators is that Your Pie can accommodate smaller real estate sites due to its pizza oven being the only major piece of equipment, French said.

The chain is starting to attract more attention from shopping center developers, who are beginning to understand fast-casual pizza more, he added.

“Where we are, we haven’t had to compete against a similar concept yet, which helps with real estate,” he said. “A lot of shopping centers have exclusives with a Papa John’s or a Pizza Hut, though, so that takes some areas off the map. But landlords are sophisticated and understand that fast casual is where it’s at, so they’re starting to target us over Domino’s and mom-and-pops.”

Barr, a board member of the International Franchise Association, said Your Pie is no more disadvantaged than any other brand in getting funding for franchisees, and he was optimistic more lending would become available as the new fast-casual pizza segment establishes a record of success.

“The primary limitation is it’s a new segment and category, and people are still learning about it,” he said. “Once they get their head around what fast-casual pizza is, the more they’ll accept it, and franchisees will come along as well.”

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN