Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint is expanding its footprint in Florida. The popular build-your-own fast-casual pizza restaurant signed a franchisee agreement for three units in the Sarasota, Florida area. The first restaurant is expected to open in the Cocoplum Village Shops in North Port, Florida., in November.

The franchise agreement is a family affair. Sisters Rise Johnson and Marsan Hewett, along with their husbands Leighton and Terry, have partnered to build the three restaurants. The two couples discovered Uncle Maddio’s when they visited the Tallahassee, Florida, location. The families had been searching for a restaurant franchise to invest in together, and after tasting the food and trying the personalized, build-your-own pizza concept, they knew they had found the perfect opportunity.

“We are a very close-knit family and have dreamed of going into a restaurant business together,” says Marsan. “Family is very important, and the family atmosphere and ‘served with love’ mantra at Uncle Maddio’s is a perfect fit for us. We think the residents of Sarasota will love the food and the atmosphere as much as we do.”

Rise and Leighton will move to Sarasota to run the businesses, while Terry and Marsan will continue to live in Moultrie, Georgia, where Terry serves as captain of the Moultrie Fire Department. The two sisters and Leighton all grew up in Quitman, Georgia, and Terry grew up nearby on his family farm that he and Marsan now call home. Both couples were high school sweethearts and have always been very close friends with goals of becoming entrepreneurs.

“We chose the timing of the opening strategically, as November is just in time for the busy travel season when the snowbirds land in Florida,” Rise says. “We also are very optimistic about our first location. There is not another pizza place for 15 miles, so we are filling a much needed gap in the fast-casual dining scene.”

Uncle Maddio’s already has restaurants located in Tallahassee and Jacksonville, Florida, and will soon open in Panama City and Ocala, Florida. They also recently announced an agreement for the Orlando market as well.

“Rise and Marsan are exactly the kind of franchisees we love to partner with,” says Matt Andrew, CEO of Uncle Maddio’s. “They have a passion for the brand, they love the food, and they understand our company values. We look forward to growing the Sarasota market with them.”

Since launching its aggressive growth plan in 2008, Uncle Maddio's has signed franchise agreements with 55 different entities in 18 states. Many of Uncle Maddio's franchisees have previous multiunit experience with Jimmy John's, Firehouse Subs, Dairy Queen, McDonalds, Burger King, Krystal, Papa John's, Domino's, Golden Corral, and Five Guys. Uncle Maddio's is on track to have 300 restaurants open in five years with 1,000 units in development and is opening units every 10 days.

Uncle Maddio's offers premium ingredients and more customization than any other fast-casual pizza chain. Guests choose from one of three crusts, including a gluten-free option, and 48 toppings including six sauces, 27 vegetables, and 15 meats. More than 30 menu items are made fresh daily in-house. For those with dietary restrictions, Uncle Maddio's serves up a huge selection of healthful options such as whole-wheat and gluten-free crusts, hormone-free chicken, fresh local vegetables, Daiya vegan cheese, and organic greens. Create-your-own signature salads and toasted Panini sandwiches round out the Italian-style menu. The restaurant also offers a selection of craft beers and wine.

Franchising, News, Pizza, Uncle Maddio's