A Watertown, N.Y. staple is the first eating establishment to be purchased by the newly formed Empire Pizza Holdings Inc.

Mariano's Pizza was bought by Seaway Valley Capital Corporation's former holding Wisebuys Inc.

Wisebuys has filed with the State of Florida to change its name to Empire Pizza Holdings Inc. and will do the same with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Empire Pizza's strategy is already in place and includes an expansion of both company-owned and franchised shops, as well as the acquisition of existing independent pizzerias.

Empire Pizza's president, Maury Peters, founded Mariano's and its predecessor, Crescent's Pizza.

"I was the originator of one of Watertown's largest independent pizzerias, Crescent's Pizza, and pizza is my passion. I love it and I love cooking," Peters said.

After selling Crescent's Pizza, Peters opened Mariano's in early 2009 in Dexter, N.Y., and later moved to the City Center Industrial Park in Watertown.

Peters believes the market is ripe for independents to consider franchising in the ubiquitous pizza industry and hopes to expand on his own establishments soon with Empire Pizza. A Mariano's is slated to re-open in Dexter by the fall.

"The pizza industry is a $34 billion industry with the 'big three' taking about 45 percent market shares. However, the remaining 55 percent of the industry is still highly fragmented, with independent 'mom and pops' and small regional chains representing the majority of the total pizza shops," Peters said. "It is my opinion that, as competitive pressures continue, many of those shops will eventually look to align themselves or partner with a company that, while sharing the values of the best quality pizzas using the finest ingredients, allows them to benefit from the marketing efforts and the economies of scale that the franchise model offers."

Seaway Valley recently sold its majority stake of Wisebuys Inc. for $135,000 and restricted shares of the company.

 

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