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Toppers Pizza Provides Meals to Families Facing Hunger with System-wide One-Day Event

February 23, 2017 • Company Growth

Fast-Growing Pizza Chain Has Provided More Than 2 Million Meals* Through Partnership With Feeding America®

Whitewater, Wis. – When Toppers Pizza was founded nearly 30 years ago, it was built on a foundation of two basic values: A strong love of pizza and a strong love of people. In 2011, the rapidly growing better pizza franchise took those principles to heart, announcing a partnership with Feeding America®, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief charity. Now, the brand is taking it a step further and unveiling a system-wide, one-day Hunger-Relief Event with an impact that’s twofold—you can enjoy your pizza, and help people in need.

On February 27, 2017, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., all Toppers locations will sell medium, two-topping pizzas for carry-out only for $4.99. And for each large, one-topping pizza sold, the chain will donate $2 to Feeding America.

“Over 42 million people in the United States face hunger, including 13 million children. Through this partnership, the Feeding America network of food banks can provide more food and groceries to people struggling in the United States. With more than 70 locations spanning 12 states, we have the potential to feed hundreds of families in need,” said Toppers Founder and CEO Scott Gittrich. “This is the first time we’re doing a one-day event like this that’s hyper-focused on the individual efforts of our local stores, and we believe this is a simple way to make a great impact on the lives of families throughout the country.”

Over the past five years, Toppers has collectively raised a total of $250,000 for Feeding America—the equivalent of more than 2 million meals*. Hunger in America is a problem that affects every community in the U.S. And one that Gittrich personally contributes to alongside the Toppers partnership. Currently, one in eight people face food insecurity each year, meaning 42 million Americans may not know where they’ll find their next meal. As the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization, Feeding America provides food to more than 46 million people each year, with the help of their vast network and the philanthropic efforts of partners like Toppers.

Toppers franchisees have made the Feeding America network a focal point at their individual locations, from developing Topperstix eating contests and creating special menu promotions to volunteering their own personal time. As Toppers Pizza continues to expand nationwide, Gittrich believes that the company’s relationship with Feeding America will continue to grow, allowing the brand to aid an even greater number of families affected by hunger in the years to come.

“Through our partnership with Feeding America, we’ve been able to connect with the community and make a true difference for a cause that we feel passionately about,” Gittrich said. “Toppers has always upheld a core value of giving back to the communities in which we live and work, and it’s been an honor to work as a team to help others.”

ABOUT TOPPERS PIZZA
Capitalizing on the booming better pizza category and fueled by the passion of Founder & President Scott Gittrich and a team of experienced industry veterans, Toppers Pizza has formulated the perfect recipe to appeal to both pizza enthusiasts and savvy investors. Headquartered in Wisconsin, Toppers is one of the fastest growing better-pizza chains in the United States. The brand has doubled in size over the last three years and completely sold out three states based on growth spurred by both existing franchisees and established multi-unit operators. Now with restaurants in 12 states and with territories immediately available across the country, Toppers plans to reach 700 stores in the U.S. within 10 years. Toppers is committed to quality and consistency throughout the system, and plans to maintain corporate ownership of 25 percent of all locations while the brand expands to continuously improve on best practices and product development. Toppers fanatics love the brand’s fresh, handmade and customizable pizza baked in about 6 minutes and delivered extremely fast, with more than a million combinations of fresh, high quality toppings, and the brand’s signature line of flavored Topperstix and baked Buffalo wings. In 2014, Entrepreneur Magazine ranked Toppers as one of the top 500 franchises in the U.S and QSR Magazine listed the company as one of the year’s Best Franchise Deals. For more information on how to join the rapidly growing Toppers family and for a sneak peek into the Toppers experience, visit http://www.toppersfranchise.com/.

About Feeding America®

Feeding America is the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 46 million people through 60,000 food pantries and meal programs in communities across America. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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*Every $1 donated to Feeding America helps secure up to 11 meals on behalf of local member food banks. Toppers Pizza guarantees a minimum of $50,000 to Feeding America and member food banks, November 01, 2016 through April 30, 2017.

From Burgers to Pizza: Toppers Pizza Hires Wendy’s Veteran as Franchise Business Leader

February 21, 2017 • Company Growth

Greg Castillo has been a self-professed “restaurant guy from the get go” but before the new Franchise Business Leader for Toppers Pizza joined the Toppers team, he was a Wendy’s man.

Castillo spent more than 20 years with Bridgeman Foods Inc., a Wendy’s franchisee (also a franchisee of Chili’s, Fazoli’s, Perkins, and more), with stints at Wendy’s corporate and another Nashville area Wendy’s franchisee prior to that.

When he was looking for the next chapter and researching expanding brands that he could utilize his experience and expertise to help grow, Toppers kept popping up.

“Toppers is unique,” Castillo said. “The product is high quality and the recipes and products we use are all fresh every day. What I think I can bring to help is that they are at the plateau where they are ready to explode in terms of growth. If you’re a single franchise owner, how you run your restaurant is different than when you get to four, five or six locations. The rules change a little bit. I feel like on a larger scale, Toppers is at a point where they are about to get into the big big leagues. I was responsible for nearly 60 restaurants with Wendy’s and wore a bunch of different hats, so I feel like I can bring some of that expertise and experience with me to help continue their smart growth.”

Coming from a large franchisee of a huge company like Wendy’s to the corporate team at Toppers, he believes his franchisee mentality will help as he works to shore up operations at his stores and find ways to increase sales. As a new Franchise Business Leader with Toppers, Castillo will oversee 20 Toppers Pizza restaurants in the Wisconsin area, primarily in Green Bay, Milwaukee, and Eau Claire, as well as one store in Fort Worth, TX and one in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“I see some things out in the marketplace where I can be of value to help the company. It’s the right time and the right place,” Castillo said.

Born and raised in Racine, Wisconsin, Castillo lives in nearby Mount Pleasant with his wife of 30 years and two children. He has always stood by a simple philosophy to success in the restaurant industry: put people first.

“People, sales and then profit. In that order. If you get them out of order, it doesn’t work in the long run. I keep it real simple,” Castillo said.

Expanding Franchise, Toppers Pizza, Rolls Out New Design

February 6, 2017 • Company Growth

“The inspiration was our customers and the changes we’re seeing in our business. Back in the day, the pizza business was [about] 80 to 90 percent delivery; these days we have a far larger percentage of our customers are either ordering online or calling in and coming in and picking it up,” says Toppers’ chief development officer David Biederman. “With our customers coming in, it gives us a great opportunity to showcase what we do and we’re very proud of our pizza. We make our dough fresh every day; we hand chop our vegetables, and we use real Wisconsin cheese.”

Check out the full article on QSR.

3 brands discuss sweating out Super Bowl’s ‘super Busy-ness’

February 1, 2017 • Company Growth

Across the U.S. this pre-Super Bowl week, restaurant owners, employees and vendors are probably popping extra vitamins — maybe even carb-loading —  in anticipation of the monumental demands coming Sunday in the hours before, during and after the big game.

That’s when the National Restaurant Association says that roughly 15 percent of the nation’s population orders food for what the USDA says is the No. 2 food holiday of the year. Fifteen percent, by the way, is about 48 million people — all dialing, typing, talking online, phoning, or even physically going to a restaurant to order sustenance for those taxing hours of couch-surfing demanded by every Super Bowl.

It is, in short, a make-or-break holiday for just about all foodservice brands that deliver or cater, but it takes well-coordinated effort and even a bit off ESP to pull it all off for any specific brand. That’s why this site wanted to get a glimpse of what various chains do to prepare, as well as execute, the day’s intense food service demands. So we recently fielded a few general questions to representatives of three big delivery brands about their Super Bowl strategies.

Included in the panel of brands who responded to our questions, are:

Toppers Pizza Marketing Vice President Scott Iversen
Philly Pretzel Factory Marketing Manager Adam Terranova
Wing Zone Training Director Noel Guilford

Click here for full article.

4 functional factors fueling pizzeria design trends

January 24, 2017 • Company Growth

Let’s face it: The restaurant industry has got some serious competition from the array of businesses now making dining at home an increasingly popular option for consumers. And that holds doubly true in the pizza restaurant business, where take-out and delivery have always played a big role.

But most brands have made their dine-in businesses integral to their success, and since even the most committed hermits crawl out from their caves for a dinner out once in a while, savvy restaurateurs know that the experience their brands provide for those dining in may be more critical in today’s ultra-competitive pizza business than ever before.

For one brand that has launched a anew store prototype, Toppers Pizza, the subject is top of mind. The chain has spent the past year immersed in the redesign process, which has resulted in a more open kitchen design, dubbed the Toppers Show Kitchen.

“Much of our design was driven from how our customers have been using our restaurants and the direction the business is heading,” Toppers Chief Development Officer David Biederman told PizzaMarketplace in an interview following the opening of the first store sporting the new look in Milwaukee. “We are seeing more and more people coming in and picking up pizza in-store. The online ordering is gaining popularity. We are changing from just a pizza factory. Now, our customers are coming in and seeing us. They are seeing our brand and the quality of the product that we make. We wanted to allow our customers to actually see what goes into the pizza that they are excited to eat. That’s where the inspiration of the Show Kitchen stemmed from.”

Click here for full article.

Toppers Pizza #40 on the Franchise Times Fast & Serious List

January 3, 2017 • Company Growth

NEW • Scott Gittrich, founder of Toppers Pizza, quibbles a bit when asked his strategy for building his brand. He believes it’s about “ruthlessly guarding and building the concept and unit profitability. I’m not sure that’s a strategy as much as it is blocking and tackling.” Gittrich started Toppers 25 years ago with one restaurant, and in the last three years, has grown to more than 73 units and $60 million in systemwide sales. An in-your-face marketing campaign is one differentiator. “Our brand voice is the cocky young person, kind of dismiss the big guys and talk smack,” he says. But the “biggest one by far” is Toppers’ online ordering capabilities for customers, in which the brand has invested heavily. Forty-two percent of orders come in online. “Our customers love the site and use it in a whole bunch of unique ways,” he says. But Gittrich is not stopping there. “We look out 10 to 15 years and say you know, there’s going to be self-driving cars, there’s going to be automation in kitchens where robots are making pizzas, customers are going to be ordering in kiosks in restaurants. Those kinds of things are not a question of if, they’re a question of when and who’s going to adopt those things,” he says. “It’s our job to look at those things.”

Click here for full article.

A foodservice veteran returns to his first love—pizza—as a Toppers franchisee.

December 27, 2016 • Company Growth

For much of his 32-year career in foodservice, Toppers Pizza franchisee Todd Geatches has been around pizza.

Starting as an Oliver’s Pizza franchisee just out of high school, Geatches later went to work as a district manager for Papa John’s as the brand grew from about 400 restaurants to more than 2,500. Later, Geatches founded Rocky Top Management Group, which now has nine Taco John’s locations in the greater Denver area.

His success with Taco John’s led Geatches back into the pizza arena, and specifically Toppers Pizza, whose quality product and passionate founder reignited his love for the category. Rocky Top has plans to open 13 Toppers locations over the next three years in Colorado and Wyoming, with more than a dozen stores planned through the end of 2022.

Geatches shares the advice he’s learned throughout his career—including what’s behind the undying appeal of pizza.

Read more in the December issue of QSR

Whitewater, Wisconsin-based Toppers Pizza recently launched Straight-Up Pricing

December 22, 2016 • Company Growth

What once was considered out of the ordinary has now become commonplace. Today’s consumers expect to have the opportunity to customize their restaurant orders — ranging from the substitution of one ingredient for another to the reimagining of a complete entrée. As a result, operators are making it easier for consumers to participate in the creation of something original.
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Toppers to go on 1,500-person hiring spree

November 29, 2016 • Company Growth

The Toppers Pizza Inc. franchise is hiring and is planning to bring a swath of employees under its belt by year-end.

The fast-growing Whitewater-based pizza restaurant chain recently said it’s going to employ an additional 1,500 workers across its entire franchise system before 2017 begins. The company said it’s mainly focusing its hiring efforts in the fast-growing Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Chicago markets.

Toppers currently boasts 80 stores up and running in 14 states and has its eye on robust growth for the long term. In 2016, the restaurant chain signed three multi-unit development deals that will add 41 new Toppers locations. In the last three years, the number of franchises has doubled.

Toppers Pizza was founded by Scott Gittrich in 1991.

Click here for full article.