ROSWELL, Ga. – Your Pie, the upstart pizza franchise, started by Drew French of Roswell while at the University of Georgia, may well be turning a few heads as its franchising gains momentum.
Franchising Chief Executive Officer Bucky Cook, who started Heavenly Ham, bought the first franchise in 2010 that was not owned by the founders Allen and Drew French, a father-and-son team.
Since taking over franchising operations, Your Pie now has 18 restaurants in five states that are physically operating, with the Buckhead Your Pie to open soon on West Paces Ferry.
In all, there are five franchises that are either in lease negotiation or build out that will be operational in the short term.
“We have another 10 operations are not quite that close; we haven’t started site-work yet. But we expect them ready by the end of 2014,” Cook said.
There are four restaurants in Florida in Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville. Your Pie expects to have 100 locations around the Southeast by the end of 2015 in locations that include Charlotte, Tampa, Nashville, Charleston, Birmingham and Augusta, Ga.
The pizza market is thoroughly saturated, so how does Your Pie manage to find a way to crack into the Big Leagues?
There are several reasons, but first up is finding the right niche. To follow Your Pie’s train of thought, Cook says go back a decade to the Tex-Mex market where you either had either high-end restaurants like La Paz or the mom and pops that abound.
“Then you saw places like Chipotle’s and Moe’s that created ‘fast-casual’ where service was faster but you still had high-quality food and atmosphere,” he said.
“Candidly, we thought if that worked with burritos, which in the hierarchy of restaurants being built is eighth or ninth, what can we do with pizza, which is No. 2,” Cook said. “And if you take McDonald’s out of the burger category, pizza jumps to No.1.
“So we’re trying to carve out that same fast-casual niche,” Cook said.
Your Pie takes the “down the line” approach that was created for pizza by founder Drew French when he was still a student at the University of Georgia.
Pizzas are made individually in front of the customers, choosing the ingredients as they go.
“You can eat as healthily or as unhealthily as you choose to make it. And we will make them gluten-free,” Cook said.
It makes good sense to have gluten-free. If a family member has that allergy, it is often a driver in deciding where the family is going, he said.
Another critical decision has been to go with brick ovens.
“So you watch it being built, then you put it under the brick oven. That is a point of differentiation that even the big guys like Domino’s don’t use,” Cook said. “The brick oven is the authentic Italian pizza. So we’re trying to hit a quality that is higher than the Pizza Huts but at a price point that is below a California Kitchen, which is your upper end price point. We think that is where a lot of the market will be.”
Your Pi(e) proclaims Pie Day
ROSWELL, Ga. – The Roswell Your Pie franchise has a new promotion based on old math: Pi(e) = 3.14($) on 3-14 (March 14). Thus pi equals a $3.14 pizza on 3-14.
Your Pie has declared Friday, March 14, as Pie Day. Their marketing campaign uses the value of pi, which is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter and is approximately equal to 3.14.
Get it? Archimedes would be proud.