Top That! Pizza announced the signing of its first development agreement, paving the way for the expansion of the Tulsa, Oklahoma–based concept throughout Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, and North Texas. Beautiful Brands International, Top That! Pizza’s franchising representative, facilitated the deal, which is one of the largest in that company’s more than 20-year franchising history. The development agents were Pat and Deborah Calhoun of Tulsa.

Top That! Pizza, developed and owned by Jeff and Lori Walderich, is a fast-casual personal-sized pizza restaurant. The concept lets guests oversee the creation of their preferred pizza in much the same way as they might in a sub sandwich shop, choosing from a wide selection of crusts, sauces, vegetables, meats, and cheeses, as well as eight signature house creations. Using the industry’s fastest-cooking ovens, Top That! presents customers with their fresh-baked personal pizza in less than five minutes.

“This concept satisfies customers on so many levels,” Lori Walderich says. “The price is right, the pizza is delicious, and it’s fast enough to draw a valuable group of customers who don’t have much more than 30 minutes for weekday lunch. Then in the evenings the restaurant scores with families and kids.

“I think the versatility explains why repeat business has been so strong. It’s actually surprised all of us how quickly this idea has caught on.”

Top That! Pizza’s developer Pat Calhoun grew up working in the restaurant industry and has extensive experience in human resources, training, and team-building. At the end of this month he will retire from his career at the Tulsa Police Department and begin work on his first store. “We are shooting for an early spring open date,” he says. “I have a location picked out and we’re actively negotiating it now.”

Calhoun wanted to be the concept’s first developer because he fell in love with the idea of fast-casual custom pizzas. “I was there on opening day and kept coming back each week, trying all the different options and studying the way the concept works. I knew early on that it was going to be big and I wanted to be a part of it,” he says. “I was also impressed by the speed of the build out, the simplicity of training, and the low up-front costs to open stores.”

The first Top That! Pizza unit opened in October in a former Quiznos. The conversion took just six weeks and incorporated 90 percent of the existing Quiznos equipment, which saved time and money on build out.

Top That! Pizza is one of 12 concepts marketed and developed by Beautiful Brands International, which was founded under the leadership of David and Camille Rutkauskas.

"This 200-unit, three-state deal is a landmark accomplishment for our company and I'm thrilled to be a part of it," says David Rutkauskas, president, CEO, and founder of Beautiful Brands International. "Top That! Pizza has a solid business model and the potential to become a star player in our client portfolio. There truly isn't anything like TTP anywhere and we're excited to work alongside Jeff and Lori to make it a terrific success."

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Fast Casual, Growth, News, Pizza, Top That!