• The Loop Pizza Grill sees 50 new stores in next few years

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Owners of The Loop Pizza Grill, a 22-unit fast-casual pizza-centered chain, believe they can grow the company to more than 70 units over the next few years.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Loop owner Mike Schneider, who founded the chain 20 years ago with wife Terry, oversees units in Florida, North Carolina and Georgia. He believes that Greater Atlanta alone can accommodate 25 Loop restaurants.

Steve Maxwell, president and owner of the Atlanta-based Maxwell Properties, signed a contract in May to expand the concept there, and opened his first Loop unit in July.

While more than tripling his company's size in a few years is an aggressive expansion goal, Schneider said such growth is "slow and methodical" compared to other fast-casual concepts.

"It was never about having 5,000 locations," said Schneider, who envisions a manageable growth pace of about 10 stores a year. "It's about having and watching something grow."

On average, Loop units generate about $1.1 million in sales per year, though Schneider said newer restaurants are knocking down $1.5 million annually.

The Loop serves its food and drinks on china and glass, and uses upscale lighting and furnishings to create a contemporary and inviting atmosphere.

Its menu features Chicago-style pizzas, gourmet burgers, sandwiches and entree salads and soups.

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