Donatos Pizza announced plans to expand its southeastern footprint and debut in Tennessee with as many as 30 restaurants.
Over the next 10 years, the Ohio-based chain, which is known for toppings that extend to the edge of the pizza, expects to develop these restaurants in Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville. The first Tennessee restaurant is scheduled to open in Nashville by the end of the year.
"As the pizza market continues to grow in size and popularity throughout Tennessee, the state’s most populous cities—Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville—are extremely attractive markets for our brand," says Donatos COO Tom Pendrey. “They present a perfect opportunity for Donatos to expand its customer base and will no doubt welcome our premium quality products and exceptional service with open arms.”
Donatos was founded in 1963 when Ohio State sophomore Jim Grote bought a small pizza shop in Columbus, Ohio, from a young seminarian for $1,300. The chain was classified “best in class” and acquired by fast food giant McDonald’s Corporation in 1999 as a way to get into the pizza business, but was bought back by the Grote family in 2003.
Today, Donatos has remained a favorite in Ohio and beyond. The restaurant serves strombolis, sub sandwiches, and salads in addition to its Edge-to-Edge pizza—Donatos’ trademark that refers to toppings that go right to the edge of the pizza, Pendrey says.
Along with the dine-in experience, Donatos also offers delivery and catering services, along with 26 toppings for customizable and signature pizzas.
“The components that define the fast-casual pizza category—fresh, super-premium toppings, inventive, and unique flavor combinations, and the ability to customize to your heart’s content— have defined the way that we have operated for more than 50 years,” Pendrey says. “As the segment’s pioneer, coupled with the increasing number of consumers seeking out this type of meal, we expect to see a lot of opportunity for growth in the coming years.”
To augment the company’s growth, Donatos is actively seeking local franchisees with restaurant experience. Including a franchise fee of $30,000, the initial investment to own and operate a Donatos restaurant ranges from $460,000 to $670,000.
The average store is about 2,000 square feet and the 2014 average volume nationwide, per store, was $1,006,000.