DAYTON, Ohio -- Fifty-five-store LaRosa's Pizzeria is preparing to open its second store in Dayton, Ohio, about an hour north of its home base.

According to the Dayton Business Journal, over the next few years, as many as four other LaRosa's could open there. The town is home to 38-store Cassano's Pizza.

The new Dayton facility will be a 5,800-square-foot site seating 150 customers and employing 150.

According to the report, LaRosa's originally entered the Dayton market in the 1980s, only to pull out a few years later to focus on the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky area, a market it dominates.

LaRosa's reentry into the Dayton market in 2002 has exceeded expectations, said Pete Buscani, the company's executive vice president of marketing.

"I imagined there'd be a lot of brand awareness in Dayton, but it blew me away," Buscani said.

The Dayton store, company President Mike LaRosa said, has become one of the company's top performers in its first nine months of operation. He would not disclose sales figures.

LaRosa's isn't the only pizza outsider to enter the Dayton market recently. In May, California Pizza Kitchen opened a restaurant there, and in March, Vancouver, B.C.-based Sarpino's Pizza entered the fray. Cincinnati-based Dewey's Pizza is expected to add a Dayton store later this year.

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