Tulsa, Okla.-based Mazzio's LLC has signed a new franchise development agreement that will bring the chain to the East Coast for the first time in its 50-year history. The 170-unit pizza chain's agreement with RAMK entails a 30-unit development plan throughout Virginia.

Mazzio's features pizzas, made-to-order pastas, sandwiches and fresh specialty salads and appetizers. The chain, which currently exists in eight Midwestern states, recently kicked off it 50th anniversary celebration with a new focus to expand throughout the entire United States.

Experienced restaurateurs and multi-unit franchisees Raj and Alka Gandhi are the owners of RAMK. The husband and wife duo, who immigrated to the United States from New Delhi, India, had more than 12 years of business management and finance experience before launching their restaurant development company RAMK. In addition to their new investment in Mazzio's, RAMK is also a franchisee of Exxon Mobil and the Firkin Group of Pubs.

The new franchisees began the site selection process this week for the first of 30 Mazzio's restaurants planned for Virginia.

"The time is right to take this winning formula to new developers and consumers in markets across the U.S. and in select international markets. We are enjoying same store sales growth this year, and we continue to rank among the usual heavyweight pizza concepts on industry lists for systemwide sales. I knew the minute we met Raj and Alka that they understood the concept and why our restaurants were so successful so we are very confident they will represent Mazzio's well in Virginia," said Greg Lippert, Mazzio's CEO.

Fransmart, the franchise development company behind the growth of brands such as QDOBA Mexican Grill, Five Guys Burgers & Fries and Zpizza, is spearheading Mazzio's growth plans.

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