Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream recently celebrated the opening of its newest Egyptian location in the SODIC shopping district of Giza.
The popular Midwestern pizza brand would seem like a strange fit near a city more closely associated with sand and pyramids than cornfields and silos, but Happy Joe’s has made itself right at home in Egypt. The SODIC location is the brand’s second restaurant in the country and is quickly becoming a go-to destination for meeting indulgent pizza cravings.
Led by President of Happy Joe’s Restaurants LLC Ahmed El Batran, the franchise partner group is looking to make Happy Joe’s a household name throughout Egypt before taking on Northern Africa and the Middle East. The group’s first location opened to huge fanfare in the Cairo suburb of Roxy earlier this year, while the second opened earlier this month and is still hosting grand opening festivities throughout July.
“Thanks to its unique pizzas and one-of-a-kind family-friendly environment, Happy Joe’s is an iconic brand for many across the United States,” said Ahmed El Batran. “The same holds true for many young adults in Egypt. My sister and I remember enjoying many meals with friends at Happy Joe’s and are proud to return the brand back to Egypt and spread that same emotional connection across the region.”
Ahmed has fond memories of the brand because his father, Mohamed Magdy El Batran, and his uncles were previously Happy Joe’s franchisees in the 1980s and 1990s. The group grew the brand across the country, but it eventually left Egypt over a decade ago.
A University of Michigan graduate, Ahmed became reacquainted with Happy Joe’s during his time spent traveling the Midwest as a student. Now, with the help of his father and sister, Zeina, Ahmed plans on taking the brand to the next level globally with locations across Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The SODIC location is already tracking 300% higher guest traffic than a U.S. store on comparable orders over a one-week period, showing that Egyptians love Happy Joe’s.
“The demand for our pizza and dine-in experience has been even better than we anticipated, so there’s no doubt that we’re well on our way to making Happy Joe’s the go-to pizza place in the region,” Ahmed El Batran says.
The family-owned franchise group plans on opening additional locations across Cairo – including in Mall of Arabia, Mall of Egypt, 26th of July, Egyptian Shooting Club - 6th October – before summer of 2024. Happy Joe’s is scheduled to open in Lotus, a suburb of New Cairo, this fall, with the goal to expand into the Middle East, with the Dubai and Saudi Arabia sub-franchisee attending the gala event at the SODIC opening, as Happy Joe’s continues to grow the brand.
Ahmed and Zeina, who developed and operate a K-12 private school system in Egypt, have a built-in audience and know how to connect with families. Happy Joe’s CEO and Chief Happiness Officer Tom Sacco believes their experience and love for the brand makes them the perfect franchise partners to grow the brand oversees with their 25-unit agreement.
“They grew up having fun in our restaurants and making memories eating pizza and ice cream with their friends, so they have a connection with Happy Joe’s,” Sacco says. “When you believe what you’re selling is the best, it’s much easier to sell. For us, Ahmed and Zeina aren’t just franchisees, they’re Happy Joe’s ambassadors taking our brand to a whole new audience.”