July 14, 2014 |

Project Pie adds seasoned franchise executives to leadership team

By Mandy Wolf Detwiler

CARLSBAD, Calif. – July 10, 2014 – Project Pie, the fast-growing build-your-own-pizza franchise, has named two experienced restaurant executives to its leadership team, bolstering the brand’s stature among fast-casual pizza franchises nationwide.

 Brian Watkins now serves as Project Pie’s director of operations. Watkins has worked more than 25 years in the restaurant industry, the past 12 of which were spent at Pei Wei Asian Diner in Southern California. As a partner with Pei Wei, he oversaw eight top-performing restaurants in the San Diego/Orange County market by maintaining guests and supervising staff through superior operations and marketing strategies. Watkins also was an operating partner for two Jason’s Deli locations.

Steve Brigandi has been named chief administrative officer and general counsel. He has held various senior management positions with Jack in the Box Inc., the operator and franchisor of 2,300 Jack in the Box and 625 Qdoba Mexican Grill restaurants. Most recently, Brigandi oversaw all company franchising policies and procedures. Prior to his restaurant experience, he spent almost 15 years as a corporate and litigation partner with a San Diego law firm.

“As we grow our badass brand nationally and internationally, the toolboxes Brian and Steve bring to the table is awesome,” said CEO and Founder James Markham. “In a very short time, Brian has already brought our labor costs down dramatically. Steve’s past experience in growing a brand is significant – and these are the types of qualities franchisees want to see. Our partnership with Lee Equity has made getting this killer talent that much easier.”

Project Pie has perfected the pizza quickie –– every custom-built pizza is cooked in two minutes in a high-temperature, stone-hearth oven and served to the customer less than five minutes from the time of their order. Project Pie is driving menu and pricing innovation within the segment by offering a wide variety of toppings while charging the same price whether a pizza has two toppings or 26. The “pre-designed menu” features classic cheese pizza, a prosciutto and caramelized onion pizza and other “white” pizzas that come with no sauce –– and customers can customize any creation with gluten-free crust. In addition to pizza, Project Pie also serves salad and homemade desserts.

Project Pie, an international franchise, is the brainchild of Markham, the fast-casual pizza visionary who founded the company in 2012 after creating and launching MOD Pizza in Seattle and Pie-ology in Fullerton, Calif. The company recently signed deals that will bring a total of 27 new restaurants over the next five years in Northern California and Los Angeles, as well as five new locations throughout Indianapolis. Corporate locations are opening this summer in Dallas and Boulder.

In January, Project Pie entered into a partnership with NYC-based Lee Equity Partners, headed by investor Thomas H. Lee.

To learn more about Project Pie and the unique pizza concept, go to www.projectpie.com.

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