Beautiful Brands International (BBI) has announced a joint venture with Dean and Jill Bastian to develop and franchise Hard Knox Pizza, located in Knoxville, Tenn.

Hard Knox Pizzeria will be positioned as a fast casual, authentic gourmet pizza concept with its first franchise store slated to open by spring 2013.

"Absolutely nothing can match the taste of Hard Knox Pizza," said David Rutkauskas, BBI founder and CEO. "Chef Dean has created a remarkable concept that has a powerful potential to become a star player in our portfolio of Beautiful Brands concepts. We're talking completely fresh and authentic pizza that I believe will revolutionize the niche gourmet artisan-style pizza market."

The joint venture will utilize BBI's organizational and support system to market and franchise the brand on a national and global scale. BBI's support will include marketing, real estate, architecture, legal, franchise sales and other aspects of franchise development.

Bastian founded Hard Knox Pizzeria in Knoxville in 2009. Its signature "neo Neapolitan" pizzas include:

  • The Bonecrusher: Made up of house made red sauce, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, Italian sausage, fresh rosemary and crushed red pepper;
  • The Iron Mike" With house made white sauce, fresh mozzarella, baby spinach, caramelized garlic and shaved parmigiana reggiano; and
  • The Sweet Pea: Made with, smoked mozzarella, prosciutto, blue cheese and clover honey.

"I guess you could call us pizza obsessed," Bastian said. "Everything we do at Hard Knox Pizza — from our Earthstone true wood fired oven and one of a kind recipes to our fresh ingredients and incredible service — is done for the purpose of offering our customers the best pizza experience anywhere. I'm confident people nationwide will absolutely love our take on traditional, rustic style pizza lovingly blended with a modern fusion of flavors."

The menu also includes made to order salads, wood-fired calzones, flatbread melts and Italian-inspired desserts.

Read more about franchising and growth.

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