• Pizza companies showcase c-store concepts at NACS show

LAS VEGAS -- Want a pizza franchise? Then pick out a convenience store where you want to locate it.

That was the message several pizza companies were delivering at the National Association of Convenience Stores Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Oct. 22.

The restaurant and delivery portion of the pizza industry was well represented at the show, with heavy hitters such as Domino's Pizza sharing the stage with regional and smaller chains such as Round Table Pizza and Jerry's Subs and Pizza.

By and large, the companies were saying the same thing: Convenience stores are great locations for pizza franchises. The only difference was in how the message was delivered.

For Domino's, one of the industry's takeout and delivery pioneers, the move into what it calls a co-branding program is built on one requirement -- that Domino's runs its own show.

"We're probably taking a little different approach in that we like to lease our space and have our own people run it, rather than franchise it out," said Buck Browning, Domino's store development manager.

Dallas-based Pizza Inn is focusing on providing potential franchisees with two c-store options. Franchisees can choose a carryout-only Pizza Inn Express, which costs $3,500 in franchise fees and between $33,000 and $53,000 for equipment and initial inventory, or a full-featured Pizza Inn delivery/carryout unit, which costs $7,500 and between $88,500 and $108,500, respectively.

Pizza Inn vice president of franchise development, Michael Iglesias, said the company currently has about 15 c-store sites, located mostly in Texas. He said market forces there dictated offering more services in convenience store locations.

"It was a learning curve in the beginning," Iglesias said. "In areas where there's a lot of competition, it's hard to compete with a limited menu and no delivery."

For Jerry's Subs and Pizza, based in Gaithersburg, Md., the emphasis is on expanding both the menu and the company's brand names. As a result, Jerry's NACS Show space was two exhibits in one: for Jerry's and for its new Chicken Coupe fried chicken outlet.

The company has experimented with the concept at about 35 locations in the Caribbean and Central and South America. The company has opened three Jerry's Chicken Coupes, two in the Washington, D.C., area and another in Angola, Ind.

Jerry's executive vice president, Dave Terzian, likened this year's NACS Show to a coming-out party for the concept.

"For the domestic market we've now got the product," Terzian said. "We've got a store and can actually show it to people."

Other pizza-related companies with booths at this year's NACS Show included Round Table, Piccadilly Circus Pizza, Noble Romans, and Rich Products Corp., which manufactures a variety of pre-made dough products for foodservice.

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