Russo’s New York Pizzeria & Italian Kitchen, a popular Houston-based fast-casual pizza brand, has signed a five-unit franchise agreement in Fresno California. The multi-unit deal is with a local entrepreneurial couple who fell in love with the food and decided to bring the pizza concept to their town. 

The five restaurants will be owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Katharina and Don Haines. Don comes from an Italian family and Katharina spent most of her life in Europe, so it was important for them to invest in a brand with authentic Italian food. While living in Texas, the couple tried Russo’s and found that perfect slice of pizza.

“After trying Russo’s Pizza while living in Houston, it reminded me of the Italian pizza I would eat while growing up in New Jersey, something that is hard to find on the West Coast,” says Don. “You can’t find good authentic Italian pizza for delivery or take-out in Fresno and I’m confident by offering quality Italian food, Russo’s will soon become the go-to Italian restaurant in our area.”

The Haines recently moved back to California and saw a growing demand for authentic Italian cuisine in Fresno. Katharina spent many years working in event management and marketing, while Don spent more than 30 years in the powerplant business gathering over 25 years of management experience. Between both of their backgrounds in business, they say they’re excited about introducing a high quality fast-casual franchise brand like Russo’s in the state of California. 

Russo’s is known for its New York-style pizza and authentic Italian family recipes. Their scratch Italian kitchen with 650-degree pizza ovens allows franchisees to make unique pizzas that use original recipes, fresh ingredients, and cost-effect measures to provide pizza flavors, unlike anything tasted before. Some fan favorites include Truffle Mushroom, Prosciutto & Burrata, and Prosciutto & Fig pizzas. Other menu items include Truffle Tortellini, Caprese Pasta, Chicken Piccata, Pappardelle Carbonara; as well as gourmet soups, salads, and desserts. 

“I’m so excited to expand our brand into California and have more guests try the recipes that I grew up using with my family,” says Chef Anthony Russo, Founder and CEO of Russo’s. “The Haines’ are extremely passionate about authentic food and good service which will represent Russo’s well as we enter this new state.”

In addition to the new restaurants in California, Russo’s has signed a five-unit franchise agreement to bring restaurants to the Benders Landing area in North Houston and, and additional agreements to bring Russo’s to New Caney Bridgeland, Texas. The brand has also expanded internationally in the Middle East during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Russo’s restaurants are custom designed with an open kitchen concept, counter service, and limited employees for maximum revenue and lower labor costs. Russo’s lower-than-average labor costs kitchen concept can help franchisees manage the restaurant industry’s nationwide labor shortages, due to the pandemic, and the prospective increase in the minimum wage. According to Russo’s Franchise Financial Performance Average, the average unit volume of each Russo’s franchise location is $980,900; average food costs are 21%; average labor costs are 23%, and the average income is 19.2%. The average store investment ranges from $350,000- $895,000. Qualified candidates must have at least $200,000 in liquid capital.

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