Industry News | November 20, 2013

Kono Brings Cone Pizza to U.S.

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After decades of devouring countless slices of triangle or square-cut pizza, American consumers are about to experience a new way to enjoy the Italian dish. With the brand already established with 130 locations in 20 countries, Kono Pizza is introducing America to a healthier and portable alternative to traditional pizza: the pizza cone.

The Kono Pizza concept, first presented in Italy in 2004, was inspired and created by culinary expert, Rossano Boscolo, co-founder of the Boscolo Group Spa, and owner of multiple five-star hotels and restaurants across Europe. A crowd favorite in countries throughout Europe, Australia, and Asia, Kono Pizza offers consumers a new pizza experience with its cone-shaped crust filled with Italian ingredients. After discovering the concept during a trip to Europe, a trio of U.S. entrepreneurs, David Ragosa, Carlo Ruggiero, and Greg Kinlaw, recognized the opportunity to shake up the pizza market. They struck a deal to franchise the entire U.S. territory and established the Kono USA franchise company.

After opening their first corporate U.S. location in Edison, New Jersey, this summer, Kono USA began offering franchises and already have more than 15 units in the pipeline. "We’re receiving positive feedback regarding the potential financial opportunity for experienced and novice operators alike," Kinlaw says.

“The Kono cone is pizza reinvented,” Ragosa says. “You aren’t likely to see a guy in a business suit walking down 5th Avenue eating a droopy slice of greasy pizza. Our cones are created around mobility and high-quality ingredient. Our pizza tastes better, you feel better about eating it, and you won’t spill sauce down your shirt.”

Kono Pizza embraces original Italian recipes and ingredients inspired by the overseas locations. Served in a cone and filled with some ingredients imported straight from Italy, the brand offers consumers a healthier, on-the-go alternative to one of their favorite foods. Featuring a thinner crust and low-moisture cheese, Kono Pizza cones are only 250–280 calories each, compared to 450 calories in the average traditional pizza slice.

"Kono Pizza is fast and easy to prepare, nothing is pre-made, and every single cone is cooked on the spot. Our pizza cones can be eaten anywhere, anytime,” Ruggiero says.

The Kono USA co-founders are entrepreneurs who have worked together for many years building franchises in the U.S. fitness, food, and technology industries, including brands like Let’s YO! and Retro Fitness, before joining together to bring Kono Pizza to the states

The newly established U.S. franchisor has sights set on opening locations across the country in traditional kiosk formats and stand-alone stores. Their mission is to keep everything simple and affordable for franchisees by offering a streamlined, manager-driven business model with a low start-up cost of $250,000–$400,000.

The Italian-inspired recipes and cooking processes are standard throughout all locations, simplifying the hiring process for franchisees—a full-time, experienced chef is not necessary. In addition, each location requires a limited staff of 8–10 part-time employees and one full-time manager.

“There are more than 70,000 pizzerias and fast-casual pizza joints, but no other franchise out there in the United States has a product like ours,” Ragosa says. “We are offering entrepreneurs the opportunity to get in on the ground floor with an innovative franchise in the quick-service pizza segment—a concept that’s already been proven successful around the world.”