Concerns over the current recession haven't diluted the high-octane growth plan set out by the owners of Fuel Pizza, in Charlotte, N.C.

According to The Business Journal in Charlotte, by June, owners of the three-store company want to roll out three more stores in the state, plus one in Las Vegas.

Despite the sputtering economy, Fuel's owners believe now is the time to grow.

"With a lot of people scaling back, we can take advantage of the fact there are opportunities and deals out there," Jeremy Wladis told the Journal. Along with partners Stephen Duncombe, Lincoln Clark and Bruce Axler, Wladis co-owns Fuel Pizza. "Our total out-of-pocket (expense) will be less than $1 million for all four" new restaurants.

The company was started four years ago serving up New York-style pies in a 70-year-old Pure Oil Gas Station. For about $5,000 to $8,000 per store, Clark outfits each Fuel Pizza with gas station memorabilia such as cans, pumps and signs.

According to Wladis, the trio of restaurants grosses more than $2 million in annual sales, and he expects that number to climb to $5 million once all seven stores are open.

As one might expect, the Vegas store will differ slightly from the standard Fuel stops.

"The Fuel in Vegas will be in an entertainment complex and feature a 700-square-foot box that hangs out over the complex with a martini and margarita bar," Wladis says. "We'll have people wearing gas uniforms shaking the margaritas."

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