Real News: The Pizza Press Expanding Rapidly With Local Focus

By encouraging its business owners to think local, one California pizza franchise is quickly spreading nationwide.

The Pizza Press, headquartered in Anaheim, CA, currently has 17 locations open with another 15 slated to open in the next three months.

With a total of 94 units sold, the franchise wants to have 60 locations opened by the end of this year, Director of Marketing Jennifer Moore explained during a recent interview.

“We’re poised for 2018 to be a breakout year,” she said.

Unlike other pizza places, The Pizza Press strives to create an immersive environment where 1920s Americana, great food, craft beer and ambiance combine, Moore noted.

The name The Pizza Press is a play on the dough press the restaurants use to press and partially cook the dough prior to being put in their conveyor ovens, and the press as in the old-timey newspapers of the 1920s when they were the foundation of the community.

And just like newsstands which used to be on every corner, The Pizza Press wants to be involved in whatever community they open a location in.

“Our franchises are locally owned and community involved and that’s a critical cornerstone of the brand,” Moore outlined.

One of the key ways franchisees are encouraged to get involved with their local communities is through the universal language of good beverages and food.

All locations have about 20 taps and can select from a brand-recommended set of craft beers, but importantly each franchisee is also encouraged to seek out local breweries so they can offer their own regional flavors, Dara Maleki, the Founder and CEO of The Pizza Press franchise organization, said.

“We really encourage the local franchisee owners — whether they own one or 10 locations — to drive that local feel not only through ownership, but through community involvement,” he noted.

Rapid Expansion

Founded by Maleki in 2012, The Pizza Press opened its first store in Anaheim on South Harbor Boulevard. It opened another corporate location in Orange, CA soon after and has been franchising for about three years.

Now, the franchise has a presence in seven states including locations in Southern and Northern CA; Austin, TX; and Celebration, FL just outside of Orlando.  Stores are opening soon in Las Vegas, NV, Chapel Hill, NC, Tacoma, WA, and Ft. Collins, CO.

With larger development deals in Washington, Colorado, North Carolina, Florida, and Hawaii. Other focus states include: Oregon, Utah, South Carolina, Indiana, New Jersey, Wyoming, Idaho, Ohio, Arizona, Tennessee, Louisiana, New Mexico and Georgia.

No matter where The Pizza Press sets up a location, the franchise is looking for someone with local roots, who is fundamentally involved with their community and who has liquidity of at least $300,000.

“We’re looking for motivated team-oriented single or multi-unit owners,” Moore said, adding; “We are entrepreneurs at heart and we are looking for people who are like-minded. We want people who are committed to being part of their community and who are interested in bringing The Pizza Press everywhere by focusing on their own backyard while being supported through a franchise system.”

Support and Training

In order to bolster its expansion, The Pizza Press offers comprehensive training and support to its franchisees. That starts with seven straight days of training at one of the franchise’s corporate stores, Director of Operations Jacob Clemons said.

The new recruits are trained in every aspect of running a Pizza Press, including the operations, leadership, vendor management, core values and brand pillars to enable the franchisee to create and maintain a newsworthy experience.

After that, the franchise sends corporate trainers to the local owner’s new locations for two weeks to train staff and coach them through the opening of the store.

“For their first 90 days, our franchise development coach will be with them two or three times a month,” Clemons noted.

The field support team will also be at sites a least once per month over the first year to make sure the new locations are running smoothly.

But a core tenet of the brand is to coach and mentor franchisees as they embark on their business journey. Support actually starts even before the grand opening, as The Pizza Press will spend at least two or three days reviewing pro formas, budgeting, and helping understand lease terms, demographic propensities, and site criteria.

Once they sign their lease, The Pizza Press supports their new franchisees with architecture and design help, approving layouts and setting new franchisees up with all the necessary equipment.

Support also includes marketing for the grand opening and ongoing marketing plans that each franchisee can customize and localize. The franchise also sets them up with social media support and rolls out quarterly promotional packages.

Casual Fast

Although The Pizza Press is in the “fast casual” restaurant market, Maleki actually prefers to think the franchise leans more toward “casual fast.”

“We really want to have people dine and be with us longer than the typical ‘fast casual’ time limit of 25 to 30 minutes of dine time,” the franchise owner said. “We really shoot for 35 to 45 minutes and that’s because of our large craft beer component.”

Landlords in places that have multiple retail shops really appreciate this because it means people are staying in their centers longer and tends to create more revenue, the franchise owner pointed out.

No matter if you say “fast casual” or “casual fast,” one thing that is for sure is The Pizza Press is growing fast and they’re doing it with a spotlight on good food, craft beer and local involvement. And they’re looking for the right entrepreneurs to help them keep it going.

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