This authentic, ingredient-driven Italian brand is poised for growth.
Russo’s New York Pizzeria
Locations: Over 52
Square Footage: 1,200–3,500
Start-Up Cost: $295,00–$750,000

Russo’s New York Pizzeria prides itself on authentic Italian recipes and premium ingredients. Chef Anthony Russo, who founded the brand in 1992, is a first-generation Italian inspired by family recipes from Naples and Sicily.

“We recently introduced a new menu in our pizzeria concept that we’re really excited about,” Russo says. “I wanted to bring back the old-school authentic homemade pasta sauces—all the good, classic stuff. We’re using some of my old family recipes. We’re stepping things up a bit with elevated dishes like homemade ravioli and truffle burrata gnocchi. We also added gluten-free and vegan options.”

Russo believes in the power of fresh, clean ingredients. “My parents are from Naples and Sicily, so when I go to visit, I develop relationships with the families producing dairy there,” Russo says. “We bring in olive oil direct from Sicily. We use the same premium ingredients and vendors we’ve used for 30 years. Plus, nothing is pre-made. It makes a huge difference. We really stand out in the marketplace thanks to the high quality of our food.”

In the wake of COVID-19, in response to changing customer demands, Russo’s New York Pizzeria has started focusing on opening stores with smaller footprints, and revamping existing stores. Smaller footprints mean lower rent bills and better insulation of the bottom line—and there’s still plenty of room to produce the full menu. “We redesigned some of our stores to be more focused on counter service—no table service,” Russo says. “We have a fast-casual concept. We’re also setting up delivery service, and we’re open to catering opportunities.”

As of July 2022, Russo’s New York Pizzeria had 52 locations, with almost 20 more in the pipeline. Its franchise system is looking to expand nationally and internationally using four core models to build sales—takeout and delivery only, fast-casual counter service with takeout and delivery, full-service restaurants, and the more upscale Russo’s Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen brand that features brick oven pizzas.

New franchisees are supported at every point of the process, from third-party loan pre-qualification through site selection, lease negotiation, and assistance with general contractors, equipment, ordering, logistics, and more. New franchisees train for six weeks at a Russo’s location, rotating through each station front and back of house. The Russo’s team also travels to each new store and trains staff.

“To anyone looking for a pizza franchise, we’re in a great spot,” Russo says. “Our average ticket is strong—about $32. Our average food cost is 23 percent, and our average store volume is $1.1 million. Our financials have been audited to be compliant with franchise disclosure agreements, including Item 19. Plus, we’re an ingredient-driven, chef-driven concept. We cater to the vegan crowd and the gluten-free crowd, and it’s a great menu mix. When a potential franchisee comes to us, we tell them ‘Try the food.’ They try it for themselves and they’re sold, because you can’t get this stuff anywhere else.”

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