After closing out one of its strongest development years to date in 2021, Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream is getting ready to make its 50th anniversary year its most successful year in brand history.
The 46-unit pizza chain kicked off 2021 with 30-year industry veteran Tom Sacco as its new CEO, president and Chief Happiness Officer. Under his direction, Happy Joe’s has driven aggressive expansion efforts to bring its one-of-kind, gourmet menu and unique business model to markets across the globe. Throughout the year, Happy Joe’s signed 28 new franchise deals – resulting in an over 60% increase in store count – and opened five new restaurants, which is more than the brand has opened over the last five years combined.
“The fast-paced franchise momentum we’ve built this past year cannot be slowed down,” Sacco says. “At this rate, I have no doubt that on the year of our biggest birthday yet, we’ll be celebrating much more than our milestone anniversary – Happy Joe’s will be experiencing a record-breaking year. We have plans to open internationally and in new areas across the country in 2022. We can’t wait to create magical moments that last a lifetime in more cities throughout the world.”
Happy Joe’s is set to break out of the Midwest and spread its magic across the U.S., Middle East and North Africa. In 2021, the popular family-centric concept signed a master franchise agreement with H.J. Happy Joe’s for Restaurants L.L.C. to grow the brand abroad. Led by Master Franchisee Ahmed El Batran, the group will develop, or sub-franchise, at least 25 Happy Joe’s restaurants across Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. over the next 10 years. The first six locations will open in metro Cairo in the first half of 2022. Happy Joe’s will expand to other cities in Egypt before developing in more Middle Eastern and African countries with the potential to operate between 50 to 75 Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream Parlors across the region.
In addition to Happy Joe’s international expansion, the brand inked deals stateside to open several restaurants in new markets throughout Arizona, Texas, Florida and Missouri. A longtime franchisee who signed on to expand his portfolio with the brand is even setting sights on international expansion in the U.K.
To support its rapid growth, Happy Joe’s recently teamed up with global design consultant firm Harrison to utilize its award-winning strategic branding, interior design and architectural expertise to create a new image and brand design. Through its strategic storytelling approach, Harrison was tasked to create a look and feel that connects Happy Joe’s nostalgic 49-year-long past with elements of today’s dining and “eatertainment” venues. With plans to expand across the U.S. and beyond, Harrison also kept growth top-of-mind in order to create a brand design that can easily go anywhere. Harrison, in partnership is helping Sacco and the El Batran family design the first Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream Parlor, which will open in a retail area in Giza called SODIC.
Additionally, the brand beloved by guests across generations elevated its digital capabilities by launching its first-ever App and loyalty program. Happy Joe’s App is powered by ParTech, Inc. (PAR)’s leading customer loyalty, offers and engagement solution, Punchh, and provides robust insight to report redemptions and consumer behaviors. Through the App, individual locations have the opportunity to run local promotions at any time, giving franchisees the flexibility to leverage the technology based on their market’s needs. While in the development phase, Happy Joe’s App received praise from franchisees for its seamless integration with its existing online ordering platform. Happy Joe’s digital-forward enhancements also include an elevated website that’s under development. The brand partnered with White Unicorn to revamp the look and feel of everything from the landing pages to the ordering portal to create a more seamless, relevant online experience for guests.
“All the branding and technological advancements we have undertaken during 2021 were a necessary part of setting Happy Joe’s development and rapid growth up for success,” Sacco says. “We are well-positioned in our quest to be best in class as we broaden our reach, building ‘Happy Places’ domestically and internationally. Our hard-working franchisees and our corporate team members appreciate the passion that has been brought back to the brand in this next phase of our expansion.”
For the young – and young at heart – there’s nothing like a birthday celebration at Happy Joe’s – complete with sirens, horns, flashing red lights, an electric, oversized model train, hand-scooped ice cream, and a special song from the team. Pizza lovers will marvel at the abundant toppings on Happy Joe’s specialty pizzas – such as the 200+ pepperonis stacked on a Lollapalooza pepperoni pizza! Adults can enjoy their meals with beer or wine, and Happy Joe’s will also offer a variety of breakfast pizzas, dessert pizzas, appetizers, pastas, sandwiches, a lunch buffet and daily specials. Happy Joe’s creates magical memories that last a lifetime.