What is in this article?:
- Toppers Pizza ramps up growth efforts
- Attracting large franchise businesses
The pizza chain opened its 50th restaurant last week in Ann, Arbor, Mich.
Mark Cairns, director of franchise development at Toppers Pizza.
Attracting large franchise businesses
Cairns added that Toppers has entertained discussions for multiunit deals before, and that bigger players are getting more interested in franchising with Toppers, “but you almost have to get to that 150-unit mark to even catch their attention.”
But as Toppers continues to scale and approach its near-term growth targets, the company would look to attract large franchise businesses that might operate dozens of noncompeting concepts and might find markets sold out for the biggest pizza brands.
“If there’s an Applebee’s franchisee that wants to open Papa John’s in St. Louis, but they couldn’t because the market is sold, we’d be an option,” Cairns said. “But they may say, ‘Toppers only has 50 stores; we have 30 Applebee’s.’ We’re starting to get a little more top of mind, so as we grow in units, we hope that next group of multiunit operators will be attracted to our brand as well.”
Before those 10- or 20-unit agreements become viable, the bulk of Toppers’ accelerated growth would come from more five-unit deals for which the brand is actively aiming, he said.
One of those first “five-pack” area development deals has been signed with Jennifer and Barry Friends to open Toppers locations in the Minneapolis market. Barry Friends has worked for several major foodservice distributors, and most of their children have worked in the restaurant industry, including their high-school-age daughter, who currently works part-time at McDonald’s.
The Friends family plans for four of their children to manage and operate four separate Toppers locations to be built over the next few years.
“Both Jennifer and Barry come to the table with a lot,” Cairns said. “He understands food and franchising, she’s probably the biggest fan of Toppers in the house, and even their kids have gone to multiple [Nation’s Restaurant News’ Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators] conferences. We landed on a family that wants to grow and has the succession plan built in.”