2011 July: Five Questions

Pat Linch is vice president of operations and brand leader of Big Game Brands, which recently purchased the full-service restaurant franchise The Original Italian Pie. Big Game Brands plans to expand the New Orleans style restaurant that was founded in 1992.

Q: Now that Big Game Brands has acquired The Original Italian Pie, what are your expansion plans for the company?

A: We have aggressive plans to expand the concept across the U.S., focusing its efforts in the Southeast by first opening a corporate location in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a new franchised location in New Orleans. We will utilize area developers in larger regions and individual franchisees in smaller markets. We would like to open six to eight restaurants next year and follow that with many more in future years.

Q: How will you ensure The Original Italian Pie’s brand continuity and product consistency?

A: One key to successful brand continuity and product consistency is selecting outstanding area developers and franchisees who are dedicated to the brand and following the Italian Pie system. Our purchasing director will ensure that all spec products are available throughout the system. Our training systems will be designed to prepare management as well as unit employees to operate the restaurant according to our system. We will continue to build our system to meet the needs of our franchisees and ultimately create a franchise culture that promotes growth and success.

Q: Are commissaries used for The Original Italian Pie? Why or why not?

A: Very little. We are excited about having fresh-made, in house products in our restaurants. Any commissary use will be in producing unique products to our specification to ensure consistency from restaurant to restaurant.

Q: As the franchise continues to grow, what operations will be standardized?

A: We will have a core menu with regional options for our restaurants. Training systems for staff and management will be uniform. The look and feel of the restaurants will be noticeably “Italian Pie” as some of the design elements will be the same, but we want to preserve some creativity for individual restaurants to take advantage of specific location needs. Our food and service, however, will be the same high quality product throughout the system.

Q: What makes The Original Italian Pie have a New Orleans kick?

A: Italian Pie originated in New Orleans and the New Orleans kick refers to the approach we take in creating flavorful dishes that make people from New Orleans proud. Muffuletta Sandwiches, Muffuletta Pizza, Seafood Lasagna and Sergio’s Gulf Shrimp Pasta are just a few of the dishes where we take the flavor levels up to give them the “kick.”