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Young Ones to Watch: Ryan Rao, Chief Franchising Officer for Romeo’s Pizza

The pizza franchise is growing faster than it ever has in its 20-year history, thanks in large part to Ryan Rao, the brand’s 29-year-old chief franchising officer. We caught up with Rao to learn more about his story, his insights and more.

Ryan Rao is the head of development for the Ohio-based chain Romeo’s Pizza. In 2013, Rao’s father acquired a Romeo’s Pizza franchise along with a business partner, Ryan Rose. During that time, Rao started to learn about the Romeo’s brand and the ins and outs of franchising. In 2015, Rose ended up acquiring the brand, and Rao started in a franchise sales capacity for the corporate team.

Today, Rao has helped grow the Romeo’s Pizza brand to 50 locations. Now, following a pandemic-fueled boom in the pizza delivery segment, Rao is spearheading Romeo Pizza’s mission to expand its footprint to 60–65 open stores by the end of the year. 

When it comes to the advice Rao has for young up-and-comers just entering the franchising industry, he says it is all about finding great mentors.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have quite a few mentors in franchising, some of whom started early with brands and helped develop 1,000-plus location systems,” said Rao. “No matter your profession, it is very important to seek those mentors out, ask questions and continue a dialogue in order to soak up all the information you can. You are only going to learn so much in your own role, so if you can enlist the help of those who have been there previously, it is a great starting point for anyone entering the industry.”

Watch the full video interview above, or click here to watch it on YouTube.