Pizza Patrón tests by-the-slice program

Pizza Patrón is having a busy April, celebrating "Mes Del Nino" (Children's Month) with a special promotion for its youngest patrons, while also testing a new fountain service and La Lonchera (pizza-by-the-slice) program.

Mes Del Nino

Throughout April, Pizza Patrón will distribute childrens coloring sheets that contain a coupon for a large kids cheese pizza for $3.99 each. Kids will be encouraged to return their finished artwork to the store where it will be posted in the lobby for the community to see.

"Día del Niño (Children's Day) is a traditionally recognized celebration throughout Latin America that is observed at different times of the year depending on which country you are in. In Mexico, Children's Day is celebrated on April 30," said Andrew Gamm, brand director for Pizza Patrón.

The chain first celebrated Día del Niño in April 2010, offering free churros to children with any pizza purchase.

La Lonchera

In Pizza Patrón's recently opened Atwater, Calif., store, the company also is testing two new initiatives – fountain service and pizza by the slice.

The fountain service is a component of the larger La Lonchera test in which the company is exploring the possibility of adding fountain drinks to its business model.

According to Gamm, the test will help the company understand whether there is enough return-on-investment to justify the additional build-out expense.

Right now, stores only offer bottled drinks in 2-liter and 20-oz. sizes. If the fountain service test goes well, Gamm said, it would contribute to better profitability at the store level.

The pizza-by-the-slice program also is in test at several other locations as part of La Lonchera.

Gamm said the market test has two objectives:

  • To increase lunch traffic by 25 percent; and
  • To increase sales 5 percent before 5 p.m.

"It's about doing a better job of finding new, incremental sales for our business," he said.

The post-lunch, pre-dinner timeframe is fast growing as a newly coined "snack daypart" for restaurants as consumers' schedules become busier and more transient. Additionally, with the offering of a slice versus an entire pizza, Pizza Patrón could position itself well in the increasing demand for smaller portions at smaller prices. Reduced portion size has been listed as a top trend by the National Restaurant Association, as well as by market research firms such as The NPD Group, Mintel and Technomic.

NPD Group's recently released study, "Healthy Eating by Generation," finds that nearly 60 percent of adult consumers are craving smaller portions.

The Atwater location opened in March as part of franchisee California Brand Development's expansion along the I-99 corridor. Plans call for 20 Pizza Patrón openings within 48 months.

Atwater's population is 47.1 percent Hispanic, a Latino majority, making it an ideal fit for the Pizza Patrón brand, Gamm said.

Some other features at the new store include large lista (ready, no waiting) pepperoni pizzas for $4.99 every day, QuesoStix, Fiesta Wings, Patron Dips and large specialty pizzas such as the 'La Toluquena' (pepperoni, ham & chorizo) starting at $6.99.

Pizza Patron is headquartered in Dallas with 102 locations in seven states and more than 80 under development.

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