Pie Five Pizza Co., a subsidiary of Pizza Inn Holdings Inc, has awarded franchise rights to two veteran restaurant groups that will introduce the brand to three new states. Big Cheese LLC, owned by Jim Stevens, is contracted to open seven restaurants in Wichita, Kan., and Tulsa, Okla. Simmonds Restaurant Management will open six Pie Five locations in Omaha and Lincoln, Neb.

"As we expand across the country, word is getting out that Pie Five Pizza is a well-positioned concept with huge potential," said Madison Jobe, chief development officer for Pie Five. "It speaks volumes that proven, seasoned operators like Jim Stevens and Mike Simmonds have hitched their wagons to our brand. With partners like them, the sky's the limit for Pie Five."

Stevens grew up in the restaurant business and has been involved with many concepts. Currently he is an Applebee's franchisee with 25 locations in Kansas and Omaha. He also franchises seven Jason's Delis in the Kansas City, Mo., area.

"I have been looking for another exciting concept for a while, but hadn't found any that interested me until I heard about Pie Five," he said. "Once I saw the operations for myself, met the leadership team, and learned how strong their franchise support is, I knew this was it. By giving guests the ability to choose from a wide array of fresh ingredients and serving up customized pizzas in less than five minutes, they're giving today's customers exactly what they want."

Simmonds has built Simmonds Restaurant Management from a single Burger King franchise in Fremont, Neb., to more than 90 restaurants in three brands that produced annual revenue of $125 million. He sold his Burger King and Taco Johns restaurants in 2008, and his 12 Jimmy Johns restaurants earlier this year.

"Pie Five is one of the hottest brands in the fast casual category because they've developed a brilliant formula grounded in high-quality ingredients, made-to-order service, exceptional value and absolute consistency that is extremely rare in today's marketplace. I'm thrilled to bring Pie Five to Omaha and Lincoln, where I believe it will become an overnight sensation," Simmonds said.

Pie Five currently has 10 locations in Texas and one location in Utah. The addition of the three aforementioned markets brings the total announced franchise restaurants under contract to 85 in Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

Both Stevens and Simmonds project their first units to open within the next six months.

Read more about franchising and growth.

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