2011 June: UP AND COMING

Domino’s Pizza may have won our Chain of the Year designation, but there certainly are other companies within the category that are either enjoying success now or setting themselves up for a promising future. Here’s a look at a handful of those organizations, presented in no particular order:

Gatti’s Pizza — Ranked No. 25 on our Top 100 Companies list, Austin, Texas-based Gatti’s Pizza has more than 130 stores in 11 states and tops $138 million in sales. The company’s spacious stores feature a pizza, pasta and dessert buffet, along with video and redemption games. Earlier this year, the company announced plans to grow by adding new entertainment centers in Texas and Oklahoma. These GattiTown locations, operated by franchisee Food Service Management Systems (FMS), range from 45,000 to 60,000 square feet. In the January 24, 2011 edition of the Hot Slice, our weekly electronic newsletter, Gatti’s CEO Mike Mrlik is quoted as saying: “In this lingering downturn, you don’t expect to see expansion like this. It tells you something about the success of the Gatti’s brand that FMS is able to make such a big move.”

Mellow Mushroom — Ranked No. 50 on the annual Top 100 Companies list, this Atlanta-based organization weighs in with 105 locations that combine for $46 million in sales. Over the past four years, the company has enjoyed some of the fastest growth in its history. With a product that is well aligned with today’s consumer tastes, it’s no wonder Mellow Mushroom has announced a rash of store openings in 2011 (around 15 at press time for this article).

The Rock Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits — With only 10 stores, The Rock reported $26 million in sales in 2010, according to the Directory of Chain Restaurant Operators. That put the small company, based in Auburn, Washington, at No. 92 on our Top 100 Companies list. With a fun, energetic Rock-and-Roll theme and wood-fired pizzas, The Rock has been a big hit in the Pacific Northwest. Its branding projects the polish of a much larger company, and The Rock is attempting to grow by offering multi-unit development plans to potential franchise partners. One such partner, Kaizen Brands, has plans to open 40 stores in Canada over the next seven years.

Marco’s Pizza — Based in Toledo, Ohio, Marco’s Pizza is No. 28 on our Top 100 Companies list. With more than 200 stores and more than $120 million in sales, the company operates in 18 states and the Bahamas.
According to the Marco’s Pizza Web site, the company is on track to open more than 60 new units this year. Additionally, it claims that more than 900 new locations are in development, which would quadruple the company’s store count in coming years.

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