Donatos Pizza has seen consistent growth throughout 2023 and the brand looks to build off of the momentum in the coming year. Since the beginning of this year, Donatos Pizza has opened over 30 locations, including five traditional stores, along with 26 strategic partnership locations. With a presence in 29 states, the franchise presently boasts a network of over 460 locations. Donatos’ products are also proudly served in nine sport and entertainment venues, with the most recent addition being the official pizza provider for the Cincinnati Bengals in Paycor Stadium. Expansion and logistical efficiencies have allowed Donatos Pizza to open their newest store in Edmond, Oklahoma, and enter the key market of Dallas, Texas.
Donatos’ strategic partnership with Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, a full-service restaurant chain serving an assortment of high-quality gourmet burgers in a family-friendly atmosphere, has been a win for both Donatos Pizza and Red Robin. The Donatos Pizza partnered locations are a proven, high-return growth driver for the Red Robin brand. Today, the partnership includes 274 Red Robin locations with plans to scale to additional markets across the nation. Based on Donatos’ current pipeline of franchise partners and the expanding growth from non-traditional partner locations, the pizza brand is poised to launch over 150 new restaurants in 2024.
“Working with Red Robin has been a real game-changer for the company, and we are excited to see our continued partnership develop and grow,” says Kevin King, president of Donatos Pizza. “Our Red Robin locations have laid a strong foundation for our ambitious expansion of traditional store growth across the U.S.”
With a powerful traditional store AUV of over $1,290,000, Donatos Pizza is accelerating growth plans across the U.S. Donatos Pizza has looked to Agápe Automation to provide solutions to help automate and improve efficiencies and consistency in the pizza making process by introducing a line of Sm^rt equipment. Donatos Pizza has introduced the Sm^rt Saucer (automating application of sauce), the Sm^rt Ring (assisting with speed and accuracy of applying cheese) and the Sm^rt Pepp (slicing and applying pepperoni). The Sm^rt Pepp, Sm^rt Saucer and Sm^rt Ring help Donatos Pizza eliminate excess food waste, streamline production and be more time efficient. In 2023, Donatos Pizza entered an exclusive partnership with Appetronix to test a fully-autonomous pizza vending machine. Donatos’ innovation efforts have not gone unnoticed, as they were awarded the 2023 CREATORS award by Nation’s Restaurant News. This national accolade commends the brand for the best innovations in the restaurant business.
“Our brand’s aggressive growth strategy and commitment to partnering with franchise partners that align with Donatos’ core values have positioned us perfectly to continue building a pipeline of new franchise candidates and new store commitments for the next several years,” says Jeff Baldwin, Vice President of Development & Franchising for Donatos Pizza.
With the growing network of passionate and skilled franchise owners, the company remains dedicated to fulfilling the promise: “To serve the best pizza and make your day a little better.” Simultaneously, the Donatos Family Foundation, an initiative to make a sustainable, positive impact on the communities they serve, has continued its outreach and giving throughout 2023. The system-wide fundraising efforts go directly to local organizations and creates a connection between the franchise partners and their local communities.