Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint, the 30-unit fast-casual chain with a presence in 13 states, is starting 2015 off with a bang with the opening of four new restaurants in January. The first opens January 8 in The Gardens in Havana Shopping Center in Aurora, Colorado. Units in Omaha, Nebraska; Charleston, South Carolina; and Cary, North Carolina, will open later this month.

“We are on track to have 500 restaurants open in five years with 1,000 units in development,” says Matt Andrew, CEO of Uncle Maddio’s. “Many of our franchisees partners have previous restaurant experience. That tells me that knowledgeable operators and discerning guests alike understand and appreciate the Uncle Maddio’s premium, customizable approach to pizza. We anticipate opening 30 more restaurants in 2015.”

Both the Aurora location and Uncle Maddio’s first Jacksonville, Florida, restaurant, which opened in the Deerwood Village Shopping Center December 31, are celebrating grand-openings January 10 with free 9-inch, any three-topping pizza to guests from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition to the Jacksonville restaurant, Uncle Maddio’s opened its first Texas restaurant in Austin in late December. Four more will open in the Lone Star State.

The new Aurora location is the first of six Colorado restaurants to open over the next three years. The restaurant is owned and operated by local Denver resident and Colorado State University graduate James Smethie. “Denver is a hotbed of activity for the build-your-own pizza restaurants. I’m excited for locals to taste the difference between us and other pizza brands,” Smethie says. “We offer more options than our competitors, fresher ingredients, and homemade sauces.”

Veteran quick-service franchisee Kevin Gartner owns and operates the Deerfield restaurant, the first of five he will open in Florida, including two in Gainesville. Gartner is a long-time Krystal’s franchisee with more than 20 years of experience operating restaurants in North Florida. “Deerwood Village is the perfect place for young, old, friends, families, and office workers alike to enjoy the Uncle Maddio’s menu,” Gartner says. “I look forward to introducing the North Florida community to the create-your-own pizza concept.”

Gartner’s five units are among 30 new Uncle Maddio’s scheduled to open in Florida by 2018. The fast-casual pizza chain recently awarded multiunit deals to open in the Ocala, Panhandle, and Tallahassee markets. Other Florida target markets for 2015 include Tampa, Lakeland, and Fort Myers.

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Fast Casual, Growth, News, Pizza