May 09, 2014 // Franchising.com // WHITEWATER, Wis. – Toppers Pizza (Toppers), an eclectic pizza delivery franchise brand that is rapidly turning first-time customers into pizza enthusiasts, continues to show substantial growth across the United States. By offering patrons an elevated experience through upgraded customer service and an original take on the boring pizza segment, the Toppers family of franchisees has grown energetically.
The brand's newest unit is opening in the St. Louis Park area of Minneapolis, Minn., and is led by Army veteran Derek Henze. Located at 5618 36th St., the pizza hot spot hosted their grand opening celebration on April 5. This will be Henze's third location and the 12th Toppers location in the state of Minnesota.
In an effort to give back to the community, Toppers has chosen five charities, including St. Louis Park Dollars for Scholars, STEP, Rotary International, Freemasons and Matter, to be the beneficiaries of a donation during the grand opening event. Each charity will be matched with a specialty pizza on the menu, and each time a large specialty pizza is ordered, $1 will be donated to the respective organization. Additionally, any customers who visit the new location and place an order will receive a scratch-off ticket with fun prizes such as a free order of Topperstix.
"2014 has started off with a bang and we're extremely excited to continue our ongoing development in the Midwest," said Toppers Chief Development Officer Chris Cheek. "Through partnerships with dedicated and passionate franchisees like Derek, we're able to give fans what they want and our newest opening in St. Louis Park is another successful step forward in growing the Toppers brand nationally."
Prior to joining Toppers, Henze served in the US Army for eight years – four years in active duty and four years in the reserves. His introduction to the brand occurred while enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Toppers was a popular student hangout and after meeting CEO and founder Scott Gittrich, Henze began working as the marketing coordinator in the corporate office, helping build strategies to differentiate the brand in the crowded pizza marketplace. During this time, Henze was able to learn about operations from a close-up perspective, and chose to grow the brand by stepping out of the corporate office and into the front lines as a franchisee. Taking advantage of Toppers' VetFran membership, which provides military members 50 percent off the franchise fee, Henze signed a three-unit agreement for the Minneapolis market.
"I have no doubt Toppers will be a welcomed addition to the St. Louis Park community and I'm proud to help develop a brand I've respected and worked with for many years, and be a part of its rise to a national household name," said Henze.
Now with 11 locations open in Minnesota, Henze is contributing to the greater growth strategy currently being implemented in the Midwest region and surrounding areas. By the end of 2015, Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois and Wisconsin are expected to anchor 70 stores, joining the 56 current locations throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina, Nebraska, Arkansas, Indiana and Texas.
"By growing the brand organically, starting in the Midwest and moving outward, we've garnered loyal support from fans as well as strong interest from potential franchisees," said Vice President of Marketing Scott Iversen. "As we continue developing, we're looking forward to maintaining our fun, youthful brand while building local, authentic relationships with new communities."
As a growth-focused franchise, Toppers forecasts an impressive 2014 with plans to build a larger presence throughout top growth markets such as Minneapolis, Kansas City, Des Moines and Chicago. The brand aims to reach 500 locations by 2020, primarily through the support of committed and experienced multi-unit franchisees like Henze.
In 1991, Toppers Pizza began its quest to become the best pizza company in the world by killing it on every detail of the customer experience. Headquartered in Whitewater, Wis., Toppers takes a unique approach to the crowded pizza segment by cooking up mouthwatering specialty pizzas that start with their fresh, made-from-scratch dough, smothered in real Wisconsin cheese and finished with outrageous toppings such as French fried onions, oven-roasted tomatoes, mac 'n cheese and tater tots. Toppers' claim to fame comes in the form of Topperstix™, arguably the planet's most addictively delicious cheesy breadstix. The Toppers empire encompasses 56 restaurants across 10 states and, with its rapid expansion, is in the midst of Midwest and national domination. In 2013, Entrepreneur Magazine ranked Toppers as one of the top 500 franchises in the U.S., Nation's Restaurant News declared the brand as one of the 50 breakout chains of the year, and Toppers received a No. 58 spot in Pizza Today's top 100 pizza companies. For more information on Toppers, visit www.toppers.com, www.facebook.com/ToppersRocks or www.twitter.com/ToppersPizza.
SOURCE Toppers Pizza