Rapid Fired Pizza, a 33-unit chain based in Ohio, announced Friday that it has been purchased by South Carolina franchisees.
Financial details were undisclosed.
Franchise company Pie Guys Restaurants, co-owned by Mike Kern and Chip Hurst, operates locations in Spartanburg, Greenville, and Easly, South Carolina. They are also area developers for Rapid Fired in South Carolina and North Carolina. Kern will become CEO and president of the fast casual, while Hurst will serve as chief development officer. After divesting ownership, Rapid Fired founder Ray Wiley will continue as a licensee in Ohio. Headquarters will remain in Kettering, Ohio, while ownership considers a relocation to South Carolina.
"Having been part of large chain brands built on a franchisee model, as well as running the front lines of daily operations, we understand how to work with franchisees as partners in driving brand growth and mutual success," Kern said in a statement.
The company said Kern and Hurst are positioned to "enhance and optimize the brand proposition" by growing relevancy and market share. To this end, the company plans to focus on franchise development throughout existing markets in the Midwest, Southeast, and Texas. Five stores are scheduled to open in the next year, including Anderson and Greenwood, South Carolina; Parkersburg, West Virginia; Indiana; and Texas.
In addition to brick and mortar, Rapid Fired will grow its presence in nontraditional locations like grocery stores, stadiums, and student centers. The chain already has a relationship with a grocer in Ohio, and it has contracted with another one in South Carolina.
Both new owners come with years of industry experience. Kern previously worked as CEO and CMO of Long John Silver's, and vice president of brand marketing for KFC. He has also operated more than 30 Long John Silver's and A&W restaurants. Hurst has more than 20 years of experience in commercial real estate development in multiple industries, including chain restaurants.
"This acquisition was based on Rapid Fired Pizza's brand strength and proven market concept," Hurst said in a statement. "We quickly recognized that the fast-casual pizza space has short- and long-term growth potential as evidenced by market entries and overall segment growth."
Rapid Fired was founded in 2015 and has since grown to six states. The chain prides itself on its handcrafted pizzas, which are cooked in 180 seconds or less.