What's In Store

Ohio pizza chain Donatos looking for Charlotte-area franchisees

Donatos Pizza, which delivers, offers “edge-to-edge” pizza, its “trademark” that refers to toppings that go right to the edge of the pizza. The Midwest chain is aiming to open as many as 15 restaurants in the Charlotte area over the next few years.
Donatos Pizza, which delivers, offers “edge-to-edge” pizza, its “trademark” that refers to toppings that go right to the edge of the pizza. The Midwest chain is aiming to open as many as 15 restaurants in the Charlotte area over the next few years.

Ohio-based Donatos Pizza is looking to expand into the Charlotte area.

The fast casual chain already has one location in South Park and is looking for franchisees to open as many as 15 Charlotte area stores over the next few years.

“(Charlotte) is just a good market. It suffered a little bit during the downturn since banking is such a dominant way of life down there, and the whole country, including Charlotte, has come out of that. We just think there’s a lot of good customers down there,” John Houck, vice president of development for Donatos Pizza, told the Observer.

Houck said Donatos is popular in the Midwest, where it began, so it should appeal to the many transplants in Charlotte.

The restaurant, which offers delivery, has strombolis, sub sandwiches and salads on its menu in addition to its “edge-to-edge” pizza, Donatos’ “trademark” that refers to toppings that go right to the edge of the pizza, Houck said. It was rated No. 1 pizza chain in Technomic’s Top 150 Fast-Casual Chain Restaurant report last year.

Houck said the company is looking for local franchisees with restaurant experience. He said those should visit the company’s franchise website.

“You’re looking for someone who is local,” Houck said. “You do better when you have somebody who knows the market – they know the people who live there, they know where they shop. That’s always a big plus. From an operations standpoint, certainly you’re looking for someone with restaurant experience.”

Donatos Pizza was founded in 1963 in Columbus, Ohio, by 19-year-old Jim Grote. It was acquired by McDonald’s Corp. in 1999 but bought back by the Grote family in 2003.

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