Awesome Restaurant Franchise Issue: Toppers Pizza, McAlister’s® Deli, Culver’s
Awesome Restaurant Franchise Issue: Toppers Pizza, McAlister’s® Deli, Culver’s

1851 digs deeper to give you the details on these 3 restaurant franchises

Toppers Pizza

  • Number of Open Locations: 83 (as of September 2017)
  • Franchise Development Website:
  • Cost to Open:
    • Total Investment: $292,416 – $530,652
    • Franchise Fee: 1st Unit - $30,000; 2nd and 3rd- $20,000 each; 4th and 5th $15,000 each; 6+ $10,000 each
  • World Headquarters: Whitewater, WI

Toppers Pizza was founded in 1991 by Scott Gittrich, a former Domino’s employee that knew he could do pizza better. Fast forward more than 25 years and he’s done exactly what he set out to do. Toppers is a standout brand in the pizza segment, offering distinctive toppings like mac n’ cheese, tater tots, bacon cheeseburger and more; seven flavors of Topperstix, Toppers’ answer to cheesy bread; 16 different Dippin’ Sauces; and Buffalo and boneless wings, all served hot and fresh by delivery drivers who run to the door.

To show its commitment to guest satisfaction -- and to prove that the sky’s the limit when it comes to toppings -- Toppers Pizza introduced Straight Up Pricing in 2016, allowing its guests to choose as many toppings as they like for one flat price.

Gittrich has built a powerhouse executive comprised of pizza veterans and growth experts and has grown the brand to more than 83 locations across 16 states. In 2016, Toppers caught the eye of two multi-unit franchise groups, leading to major deals to build out the new states of Maryland, Virginia, Colorado and Wyoming over the next few years.

With exceptional advancements in technology, 17 stores set to open in 2017 and a strategic plan to hit 200 units by 2020, Toppers Pizza is coming for the big guys in the pizza segment. 

McAlister’s® Deli

  • Number of Open Locations (as of September 2017): 387 (32 company owned, 355 franchises)
  • Franchise Development Website:
  • Cost to Open:
    • Investment range varies based on real estate
    • Franchise fee: $35,000 per unit (minimum of three units)
  • Headquarters: Atlanta, GA

McAlister’s® Deli was founded in Oxford, Mississippi in 1989, and began franchising just five years later. In the early 2010s, the brand refined its core values and mission and refocused its efforts on providing second-to-none hospitality and a simple but elevated menu served in an environment where people feel comfortable. People come in droves to experience the brand’s tremendously popular Famous Sweet™ Tea, in addition to sandwiches, salads, spuds, soups and more.

By focusing on the customer, the brand has been able to increase its average unit volume (AUV) consistently over the last five years and has grown to nearly 400 locations in 28 states. With a simple business model, available territory and a solid support system within the FOCUS Brands Inc. umbrella, which also includes Moe’s Southwest Grill®, Schlotzsky’s® Bakery Café, Auntie Anne’s® Pretzels, Cinnabon® and Carvel® Ice Cream, McAlister’s® Deli is well-positioned to continue its impressive growth in the hot fast casual category.


  • Number of Open Locations (as of September 2017): 631 (8 company owned, 623 franchises)
  • Franchise Development Website:
  • Cost of Investment:
    • Franchise fee: $55,000 (15-year term)
    • Initial Investment: $1,815,000 - $4,273,000
    • Liquidity: $350,000 minimum
  • Headquarters: Prairie Du Sac, WI

The fast casual burger segment continues to gain steam -- and Wisconsin-based Culver’s is a leading force. The brand was founded in 1989 by Craig and Lea Culver, along with Craig’s parents, restaurateurs Ruth and George Culver. Since then, the Culver’s brand has grown to more than 630 locations.

The menu’s crown jewel, the ButterBurgers, are a craveable and popular menu item created by Ruth that are still made using her original recipe. The Wisconsin-based brand stands out in the segment with its commitment to customer service, homestyle hospitality and celebrating the farmers that Culver’s sources for ingredients. Rounding out the menu are frozen custard, cheese curds, sandwiches, salads and more that transcend out of its Midwestern roots into 24 states.  

By taking a careful approach to bringing new franchisees into the system, Culver’s has unmatched brand integrity, with franchise owners living and breathing the core values in every location, every day. With plans to open 44 restaurants in 2017 and build upon its record global revenue of $1.2 billion in 2016, this strategy is working and Culver’s continues to be a leader in the fast casual burger segment.