1851 Franchise lists leading pizza brands with less than 50 units.
Pizza is still popular, and it’s not always about the larger, more well-known chains.
Forty-three percent of American consumers eat pizza at least once a week, according to Technomic’s 2018 Pizza Consumer Trend Report. Pizza is increasingly becoming more versatile, with restaurants and chains offering a variety of options to customers, from vegan to gluten-free. Taking such preferences into consideration, pizza chains will even post the individual ingredients that are put in their pizza dough.
Are smaller pizza chains better at adapting to such specific consumer eating trends? One chain on this list seems to think they are. One thing is for sure, though, the pizza franchises on this list may be small, but they are mighty, and can stand on their own trays.
Here are 10 pizza franchises that currently have less than 50 units - and are looking to grow.
Sam and Louie’s
Unit count: 10
Investment range: $331,500 - $474,700
Sam and Louie’s started in Omaha, Nebraska in 1994 and is still looking to grow. The brand currently has locations in Nebraska, Montana, Wisconsin, Kansas, Colorado and Iowa. The menu offers gluten-free pastas, pizzas and salads. There are five different franchise options from which to choose: the traditional concept, the non-traditional concept, the co-branded option, multi-unit options and restaurant conversions. The pizza chain offers a long-term franchise contract for up to 20 years. Traits of a successful franchisee include being good at networking, being willing to delegate work and good learning skills. The company stresses getting involved in local communities and participating in a variety of fundraisers.
Unit count: 7
Investment range: $316,000 - $538,000
This pizza franchise prides itself on having guest-friendly options, such as serving both individual pizzas and family-size pizzas, as well as offering gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options. In January 2018, RedBrick Pizza introduced organic pizza dough to its menu. The brand’s franchise incentives include deferring the royalty fee for the first six months after franchisees open their restaurants and a 50 percent discount for military veterans on their first location’s franchise fee. If the RedBrick real estate team cannot help franchisees find a location within 12 months, the entire franchise fee may be refunded. This pizza franchise is one of the five brands owned by Brix Holdings.
Unit count: 25
Investment range: Not listed
This Chicagoland pizza chain first opened in 1976. Beggars Pizza’s franchise page does not have a whole lot of information on the franchising process, however the brand does offer a rewards program call the Big Cheese Club, and charitable requests must be submitted following specific guidelines. While primarily located throughout Illinois, the chain also has locations in Indiana. The company posts nutritional information on their website for every menu item in great detail. Beggars Pizza frequently partners with the Glitter Your Pallet studio for events. The company is fairly active on social media, especially Twitter and Facebook.
The Original Italian Pie
Unit count: 10
Investment range: $200,000 - $275,000
Started in New Orleans in 1992, The Original Italian Pie serves pizza and other Italian goodies “with a New Orleans kick.” Locals refer to the chain as “The Pie.” The company began to franchise in 1997 and offers two different franchising models: the Full Service model and the Original Italian Pie 2GO model. Website visitors can view the individual menus for each location. The company offers catering services and helps local programs set up charity-related events as part of its Food for Thought Fundraiser Nights and Rewards Program, in which the brand donates a portion of the proceeds to the organization. The chain also offers a free pizza rewards program for children, which is handled by individual locations.
Straw Hat Pizza
Unit count: 24
Investment range: $150,000 - $250,000
Straw Hat Pizza was founded in 1959 and believes that as a smaller franchise, it is quicker to adapt to changing consumer trends. The brand’s marketing manual offers franchisees more than 200 tactics to grow sales. Straw Hat Pizza describes its crust as having a “cracker-like crunch” that is brushed with the company’s secret recipe sauce. Ingredients come from within a 150-mile radius and pizza dough is rolled fresh daily. Popular menu items include Hot Hats, sandwiches made out of the company’s signature pizza dough, gluten-free and vegan options, as well as beer and wine. The brand offers coupons directly on their website.
Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint
Unit count: 30+
Investment range: $400,000 - $730,000
Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint has an impressive pedigree. CEO Matt Andrew is a former co-founder of Moe’s Southwest Grill and helped the popular restaurant chain open 375 restaurants in six years. Ninety percent of franchise owners have multi-unit development agreements. Some stores make 200 pizzas an hour, and also get equal traffic during the lunch and dinner rushes. Ideal franchisee attributes include experience in fast casual dining or hiring an operating manager with that experience as well as a passion for the brand. The brand posts a detailed list of steps to franchise ownership. Consumers have the option to build their own pizzas.
Unit count: 40+
Investment range: $249,000 - $359,000
This chain is experiencing rapid growth, with 10 stores listed in development on its website. Zpizza offers gluten-free and vegan pizza options, and keep a detailed note of what ingredients are used in the crust for both. The pizza company was founded in Laguna Beach, California and provides local communities with several fundraising opportunities. There is a rewards program for frequent users, and customers can even take a pizza home and heat it up there. The company is quite active on social media and refers to its customer base as “zTribe.” Within the United States, the chain is primarily located throughout California and has international locations in the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, South Korea and Bahrain.
Unit count: 46
Investment range: $493,500 - $1,150,000
PizzaRev first opened in Los Angeles in 2012. Customers can pick their own cheese, dough, sauce and toppings and have their pizzas made by so-called “pizza crafters.” For this particular pizza chain, an ideal franchisee is someone who has experience developing restaurants and is involved in their community, as well as multi-unit operators. The company keeps up an active blog - the Rev Room Blog - detailing its new locations and other developments. They don’t do delivery - at least not yet - but they do help with catering events. Preferred locations for franchise spots include those that are adjacent to universities and medical facilities.
Unit count: 20+
Investment range: $221,300 - $398,300
Flippin’ Pizza serves New York-style - specifically, Brooklyn - pizza. They are so faithful to their roots, that they filter the water in a way that gives the pizza the right pH balance so it tastes the same across different locations. This pizza chain is currently looking for multi-unit franchisees who have experience in owning or operating restaurants. Franchisees must also live in the community they franchise. It takes about four to six months to open a franchise, and they list a few specific site requirements. The company prides itself on its diverse hiring practices and encourages employees to be unique while also representing the brand well. In terms of fundraising, Flippin’ Pizza hosts fundraising events and gives up to 50 percent back.
Unit count: 2
Investment range: $128,000 - $383,000
While this tiny pizza chain is based in Georgia, its owner was born and raised in New Jersey and has been making New York pizza since 1945. Operational simplicity is a major objective for Romeo’s Pizza; if run properly, it will only take 15 minutes to open a store and about another 15 minutes to close. The menu is quite basic, and free delivery is available between 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. daily. The company prides itself on providing good pizza, a clean restaurant and excellent customer service. Benefits of owning a franchise include low start-up costs and low overhead.