Big Game Brands, formerly Raving Brands, announced the purchase of The Original Italian Pie, a full-service Italian restaurant franchise featuring gourmet pizzas, salads, sandwiches, and calzones to its diverse portfolio of concepts that includes Monkey Joe’s Parties & Play and The Flying Biscuit.

Founded in New Orleans in 1992, The Original Italian Pie is famous for its gourmet made-to-order pizzas, featuring made-from-scratch dough and sauce and topped with fresh, hand-cut toppings. The full-service restaurant concept is popular for its large portions, great value, and robust menu of traditional Italian fare such as pasta and calzones, as well as sandwiches, salads, and vegetarian options, making it a good choice for the entire family.

Big Game Brands plans to expand the concept across the U.S., focusing its efforts in the Southeast by first opening a corporate location in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a new franchised location in New Orleans. With single-unit operators and area developers already taking an interest in the brand, Big Game Brands plans to grow to 25 locations by the end of 2012.

“After launching concepts such as Moe’s Southwest Grill, Mama Fu’s, and Planet Smoothie, we understand what it takes for a concept to be successful in an ever-changing environment,” says Daryl Dollinger, president of Big Game Brands. “The addition of Italian Pie continues our reach into the casual dining market and, according to Technomic, value will be key this year for consumers making decisions on what casual dining establishment they frequent. We believe Italian Pie offers quality menu items at an affordable price, and we are enthusiastic about the potential for growth and the opportunity to take the brand to the next level.”

To maintain the flare and excitement of the original Italian Pie, Big Game Brands has brought on Pat Linch as vice president of operations and brand leader. No stranger to the brand, Linch previously worked with the brand and will remain based in New Orleans to lead franchise support and training efforts.

“I am excited to be joining the team and look forward to expanding The Original Italian Pie across the United States,” Linch says. “I have a strong passion for the brand and believe that its diverse menu and distinct customer service will drive franchise interest in a concept that works in both larger cities as well as smaller markets.”

The two new Italian Pie locations will be located at 1608 East Blvd. in Charlotte and 3706 Prytania St. in New Orleans.

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Growth, News, Flying Biscuit