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Why This Newly Signed Multi-Unit Romeo’s Pizza Franchisee is a True Local Pizza Champion

With a plan to open five units in North Carolina, Chris Mclean will leverage his deep community ties to give back to those in need while spearheading the expansion of Romeo’s Pizza in the state.

By Luca Piacentini1851 Franchise Managing Editor
SPONSOREDUpdated 4:16PM 10/06/21

As Romeo’s Pizza, the 50-plus-unit emerging pizza franchise out of Medina, Ohio, expands rapidly across the country, the brand is specifically looking to partner with Local Pizza Champions — entrepreneurs who are passionate about giving back to their communities. After breaking sales records in both 2019 and 2020, the food-first pizza brand has already signed 33 new franchise agreements this year, and its community-oriented business model is a big part of that. Chris Mclean, a newly signed North Carolina-based franchisee, for example, is a community-driven entrepreneur who joined the Romeo’s Pizza system following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In 2006 Mclean and his wife Brenda opened Unity Home Care, a home health care agency that provides home care services, mental health services and foster care services in Fayetteville, North Carolina and the surrounding areas. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Mclean said they were ready to serve something new to the community, specifically by providing jobs and economic growth in the Fayetteville area. To achieve this goal, they begin to explore opportunities in the restaurant franchise industry.

Ryan Rao, Romeo’s Pizza chief franchising officer, called me while we were doing research, and we flew out to learn more about the opportunity,” said Mclean. “We observed one of their restaurants, and when I learned that their mission has always been about being active in the community, I knew it could be the right fit for me.” 

Romeo’s is adamant about making each location a pillar of its neighborhood and supporting the community both inside and outside the store. With such strong ties to his community already, Mclean knew he was perfectly positioned to achieve that mission.

“The first thing I plan to do is incorporate one of my group homes for teenage boys, leveraging my Romeo’s business to give them jobs and help them earn money,” said Mclean. “With all of the community involvement we have, it will be exciting to continue to involve the brand in our outreach.”

Being new to the franchise industry, Mclean says he also felt strongly about partnering with a company that was committed to operating with a franchisee-focus. “The franchisee support that I saw was a big reason I signed on with the brand,” said Mclean. “The communication between me and Ryan was also very strong — we spoke almost every week since visiting the headquarters in February. I knew with that franchisee-focused support, I couldn't lose.”

Romeo’s Pizza CEO Ryan Rose has an intimate understanding of the needs of Romeo’s franchisees like Mclean because he has been one himself for several years. After joining the corporate team in 2015, he utilized this experience to embark on a year-and-a-half-long project to refine Romeo’s franchise model and improve every aspect of the consumer and franchisee experience, from reducing material costs and renegotiating contracts to improving marketing strategies to drive more traffic to stores. Today, this new-and-improved business model has helped the brand break sales records and position owners like Mclean for scalable success. 

Speaking of scalability, Mclean says he is excited to spearhead the expansion of Romeo’s Pizza in North Carolina. “Romeo’s Pizza will be a good fit for North Carolina because it is a brand new option for the area,” he said. “Of course, the pizza is also amazing, and I believe the sweeter sauce will be a huge hit in Fayetteville.” 

Looking ahead, Mclean’s goal is to open 10 locations, with two open by January 2022 and another three open in 2023. 

“Chris is our ideal partner in ensuring the successful expansion of Romeo’s Pizza in North Carolina,” says Rose. “Chris has demonstrated a thorough understanding and connection with the ideals we share as a team and company. His experience in business ownership and dedication to supporting his community are exactly the qualities we look for in our Local Pizza Champions delivering sweet smiles, one slice at a time.”

The initial investment range for a Romeo’s Pizza franchise is between $128,000 – $403,000 per unit including franchise fees, building improvement costs, training, equipment, operating cash reserves and any additional needs. To learn more about franchising with Romeo’s Pizza, visit