Tulsa-Based Mazzio's Expands to the East Coast with a 30-Unit Franchise for Virginia

170 Unit Fast Casual Pizza & Italian Chain Embarks on Major Expansion

June 01, 2011 // Franchising.com // Tulsa, OK — Tulsa-based Mazzio's LLC, a fast casual Italian concept with 170 units largely concentrated in the Midwest, has signed a new franchise development agreement that will break the 50-year old chain onto the east coast. RAMK, a successful multi-unit / multi-concept development company has acquired the rights for the entire Commonwealth of Virginia for Mazzio's.

According to Pizza Marketing Quarterly Magazine's 2010 Pizza Power Report, Mazzio's is the 15th largest pizza chain in the United States, based on system wide sales, and is the 20th largest pizza chain based on total unit count. The fast casual Mazzio's concept features award winning pizzas, made-to-order pastas, sandwiches, and fresh specialty salads and appetizers. The chain, a proven concept flourishing in 8 Midwestern states, recently kicked off their 50th Anniversary celebration with a new focus to expand throughout the entire United States.

Experienced restaurateurs and multi-unit franchisees Raj and Alka Gandhi are the owners of RAMK. The Gandhi's, who immigrated to the United States from New Delhi, India, had over 12 years of business management and finance experience before launching their restaurant development company RAMK. In addition to their new investment in Mazzio's, RAMK is also a franchisee of Exxon Mobil and the Firkin Group of Pubs. The husband and wife duo are the most successful franchisees for the Firkin Group of Pubs, with a thriving location in Virginia's Dulles Airport.

The new franchisees began the site selection process this week for the first of 30 Mazzio's restaurants planned for throughout Virginia.

Mazzio's CEO Greg Lippert had this to say, "Mazzio's has been what we call the quality leader in the pizza segment, perfecting our model, menu and focusing our growth on a concentrated region in the Midwest. The time is right to take this winning formula to new developers and consumers in markets across the US and in select international markets. We are enjoying same store sales growth this year, and we continue to rank among the usual heavyweight pizza concepts on industry lists for systemwide sales. I knew the minute we met Raj and Alka that they understood the concept and why our restaurants were so successful so we are very confident they will represent Mazzio's well in Virginia."

New franchisee Raj Gandhi commented, "We had been looking for the past few years for a restaurant franchise concept we thought we could build into a large business. Italian/Pizza is as pervasive as it gets but the guest experience and price value offering at Mazzios is simply better than anything else we have seen. During our Discovery Day at Mazzio's headquarters, we were thoroughly impressed by their management team. Many Mazzio's executives have been with the company for twenty years or more. They are true professionals in this business; they are not just a franchisor, they also operate over sixty corporate restaurants."

Fransmart, the franchise development company behind the explosive growth of brands such as QDOBA Mexican Grill, Five Guys Burgers & Fries and Zpizza is spearheading Mazzio's growth plans.

Says Fransmart CEO Dan Rowe, "There isn't another fast casual Italian concept in Virginia I believe will compete with Mazzio's. The Gandhi's know how to operate high volume restaurant franchises, and Mazzio's is a model that works. We found a perfect fit."

About Mazzio's:

Mazzio's ranks among the top US pizza brands for unit count and system-wide sales. Despite our far reaching successes, Mazzio's has been a steady leader in the pizza industry for over 50 years. Headquarted in Tulsa, Oklahoma, most of our 170+ restaurants are concentrated in the Midwest, a region known for hospitality, family values and modesty. As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, we are energized to share our brand with customers across the United States and in select international markets.

Mazzio's LLC is a privately held Tulsa restaurant company that owns, operates and franchises Mazzio's Italian Eatery and Oliveto Italian Bistro restaurant brands in the United States. Mazzio's Italian Eatery was recognized in Technomic's annual list of the Top 45 Pizza Chains by Average Store Sales, and was also ranked the 15th largest pizza chain in the United States, based on system wide sales in Pizza Marketing Quarterly's 2010 Pizza Power Report. Additionally, Mazzio's was ranked in Chain Leader Magazine's annual "Best Places to Work" report due to the concepts' low General Manager turnover rate (16%) and depth of employee benefits. Mazzio's Pizza has consistently won "Best Pizza" awards in their primary markets for many years and has a very loyal customer base and retains an industry leading Customer Loyalty Index for Overall Satisfaction from SMG.

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