First Watch Signs 12-Restaurant Development Agreement With Experienced Restaurant Operator

Houston Pizza Venture Is Expanding Its Portfolio Into The Casual Dining Segment

November 01, 2016 // // CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – Award-winning breakfast, brunch and lunch restaurant First Watch announced today that it has entered into an exclusive franchise development agreement with Good Morning Carolinas, LLC, a subsidiary of Houston Pizza Venture. The fast-growing franchise group plans to develop 12 new First Watch restaurants in the Charlotte, North Carolina, as well as Columbia, Greenville and Spartanburg, South Carolina, markets within the next five years. Houston Pizza Venture currently operates more than 85 restaurants, including Papa John’s, Genghis Grill, Surefire Tacos and Firehouse Subs. The franchise group is now focusing its growth efforts on the casual dining segment, with its initial First Watch opening planned for 2017 in Columbia, South Carolina.

“When we consider new concepts and opportunities at Houston Pizza Venture, we focus on talent and culture, accompanied by great unit-level economics and most importantly, great food,” said Keith Sullins, CEO of Houston Pizza Venture. “Spending time in First Watch restaurants, meeting with their team and understanding their business, it was clear that this would be a fantastic partnership.”

“At First Watch, our main focus has been on quality, measured growth while maintaining our focus on quality and strengthening our culture,” said Chris Tomasso, president of First Watch. “Houston Pizza Venture has shown an ability to add concepts to its portfolio while attracting great people to grow their business and continuing to maintain quality in all their restaurants.”

The Good Morning Carolinas restaurants will feature First Watch’s “Urban Farm” design and revamped menu, which uses farm fresh ingredients to create and offer both innovative and traditional breakfast, brunch and lunch dishes. It includes items such as Avocado Toast, Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict, Farm Stand Breakfast Tacos and Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. The new restaurants will offer healthy, flavorful favorites like house-made granola and pico de gallo, organic greens, house-roasted vegetables, cage-free eggs and 100% fresh-squeezed orange juice as well as options from its Fresh Juice Bar – including the best-selling Kale Tonic – juiced in-house daily from fresh fruits and vegetables sourced locally whenever possible.

First Watch serves its entire menu seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and offers customers complimentary newspapers and free Wi-Fi Internet access.

About First Watch

First Watch specializes in award-winning, made-to-order Breakfast, Brunch and Lunch. A recipient of more than 200 “Best Breakfast” and “Best Brunch” accolades, First Watch offers traditional favorites, such as omelets, pancakes, sandwiches and salads, and unique specialty items like Quinoa Power Bowls, Avocado Toast and the Chickichanga. First Watch was named a 2015 Top Consumer Pick by Nation’s Restaurant News and has received other recognition including being named a 2013 “Next 20” Emerging Brand by Nation's Restaurant News and a 2014 Top Franchise Value by FSR Magazine. First Watch is the largest and fastest-growing daytime-only restaurant concept in the U.S. with more than 275 restaurants in 26 states, including more than 190 First Watch restaurants, 100 The Egg & I restaurants, one The Good Egg restaurant in Arizona and one Bread & Company restaurant in Nashville. For more information, visit

About Houston Pizza Venture

Houston Pizza Venture, LP was formed in April 1994 by Frank Carney, co-founder of Pizza Hut, Jack Laughery, CEO and chairman of the Hardee's restaurant chain, and Martin T. Hart, business advisor, entrepreneur and private investor. In 1996, Keith Sullins, former Vice President of People and Communications at Waffle House, was hired by Frank Carney as the Operating Partner and is now President. Houston Pizza Venture is one of the largest Papa John's Franchises in the system and has been awarded Papa John's Franchise of the Year twice and Operator of the Year once. Houston Pizza Venture owns Mongolian Dining Venture dba Genghis Grill (formed 2007), Houston Subs Unlimited and Brazos Valley Subs both dba Firehouse Subs (formed 2013), and Sure Fire Tacos (formed 2013). The company currently operates 64 Papa John's stores, the 7 major Houston Sporting and Entertainment venues,  3 self-contained fully functional mobile stores, 9 Genghis Grill Restaurants, 7 Firehouse Subs, and 1 Sure Fire Tacos restaurant.

SOURCE First Watch

Media Contact:

Eleni Kouvatsos
Public Relations and Communications Manager
First Watch Restaurants
941.907.9800 ext. 218


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