Last week, Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint opened new restaurant locations in Dunwoody, Georgia, and Charlotte, North Carolina, raising the total number of open franchises to nine throughout the Southeast.

By the end of fall this year, 20 more restaurants will open, including locations in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and there will be 100 more stores in development.

Before doors opened at the Charlotte location on Friday, February 15, 300 people were in line to receive a free 9-inch pizza. The location gave away a total of 500 pizzas by 2 p.m.

When the Dunwoody restaurant opened Saturday, February 16, 120 people were in line for their chance to receive the signature “First 100” giveaway prize: free Uncle Maddio’s pizza for a year for the first 100 customers.

Beyond the grand-opening events, Uncle Maddio’s franchises deploy their branded “Served with Love” customer service and work to establish a connected presence in the local community.

The fast-casual pizza restaurant also credits its development and brand recognition to an aggressive public relations and social media–marketing campaign. With an active presence on every major social-media outlet—including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Yelp, Foursquare, and Urbanspoon—Uncle Maddio’s engages customers across the nation. 

“We reach out daily to our audience through social media,” says Uncle Maddio’s marketing director Cindy Wahl. “It’s a way to connect with our customers on a deeper level, and it gives us confirmation that Uncle Maddio’s resonates with today’s culture of diners.”

With the recent trend toward eating fresh, organic ingredients, as well as the increased need for gluten-free and allergy-friendly options, restaurants are urged to feed new demands.

Customers want more choices in addition to the standard requests for quality, expedient service, and budget-friendly prices. The Uncle Maddio’s model thrives meets those needs while serving one of world’s most-loved dishes: pizza.

In March 2013, Uncle Maddio’s will open new locations in the Edgewood neighborhood of Atlanta, and at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina.

Three years ago, Uncle Maddio’s launched the fast-casual pizza market with the opening of its first store in Atlanta.

There are locations open and in development in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Dakota, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. This year, the brand will enter Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin.

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