Toppers Pizza, an eclectic franchise pizza delivery brand, is thrilled to welcome Chris Cheek to the Toppers family as the brand’s first Chief Development Officer. Cheek’s impressive and extensive resume prepares him perfectly for this new role, which will include franchisee recruitment, as well as working closely with both franchisees and corporate to oversee the real estate selection and construction phases of new units. He will proceed along with the new franchisees just entering the system, from assisting with site-selection to overseeing successful openings.
Cheek holds a mechanical engineering degree from North Carolina State University, and upon graduation, he went through General Electric’s management training program, eventually working in sales and business development for the company. In 2002, he entered the restaurant world and developed a franchise sales program from the ground up for Bear Rock Café, where he gained a wealth of knowledge for what would become an extensive career focused on franchising. From there, he joined Bruegger’s bakery-cafés in 2006 just as they were restarting their franchise program. Cheek worked on the development of both traditional and non-traditional venues, such as airports and military bases. By the time he left the company, he had added numerous new franchise commitments for Bruegger’s. In 2012, when Bruegger’s was acquired by Le Duff America, Inc., Cheek served as the Vice President of Franchise Development for the restaurant group with responsibility for Bruegger’s, Timothy’s World Coffee, Michel’s Bakery Cafés, la Madeleine Country French Café and Brioche Dorée. In 2012, Cheek went to work for Freebirds World Burrito, a 26-year-old brand that was just beginning to offer franchising opportunities. Cheek was hired as their first Vice President of Franchise Development.
When Cheek joined Bruegger’s in 2006, he met Toppers CEO and founder Scott Gittrich, right around the time Toppers began to franchise. Today, Cheek cites Toppers’ core values and its irreverent, rebellious attitude that resonates with both the consumer and franchise candidates as key reasons for his excitement to join the team.
“I remember taking mental note because their unit-level economics were so good at the time, and I thought that if they could continue at that rate as they opened more stores, that would be an extremely powerful selling statement for new franchisees,” said Cheek, noting that he and Gittrich stayed in touch over the years. “There’s also a lot of soul and magic to Toppers, and when you find a brand that has a soulful irreverence, combined with good unit economics, it’s really something special.”
Toppers is equally as thrilled to invite Cheek into the eclectic family of pizza purveyors as their team grows. Cheek’s hire is a foundational and strategic move for the brand as it continues to expand beyond the Midwest and across the nation. With a vision to reach 150 stores by the end of 2015 and 500 stores by 2020, the pizza concept is committed to hiring seasoned and experienced industry veterans to aid in the brand’s rapid expansion plans.
“It’s exciting to work with a professional of Chris’s caliber,” Gittrich said. “With a record year just behind us and a record year on the horizon, Chris is coming to Toppers at an exciting time. The brand is moving forward at a great pace and it’s Chris’s job to keep the momentum and trajectory pointed in the right direction.”
Cheek’s enthusiasm for Toppers stems from his love of working directly with franchisees, restaurant operations and the potential he sees within the brand.
“Magic and excitement happen in the field when team members are committed to killing it on every detail of the customer experience. Franchisees help us build the Toppers brand, and I love to see their success, nurture it and support it,” Cheek said. “When I look at the Toppers team, core values and ability to reach their goals, I can envision this brand six years from now, and I can’t wait to be a part of its success.”
With a mission to be the best pizza company in the world by killing it on every detail of the customer experience, Toppers Pizza is an eclectic pizza delivery franchise brand, headquartered in Whitewater, WI. Toppers takes a unique approach to the crowded pizza segment by appealing to the young, and young at heart, in an irreverent way that unquestionably separates them from the competition. Ranked No. 343 in Entrepreneur Magazine’s top 500 franchises and one of the Nation’s Restaurant News 50 Breakout Chains for 2013,Toppers’ menu includes a variety of house pizzas; the franchise’s signature product line Topperstix; Buffalo Wings; and cold drinks. The brand has strongly established itself in Wisconsin, and is now in the midst of Midwest and national domination. By focusing on Toppers’ demographic friendly markets, Toppers is able to continue building a fanatical relationship with its customer base.