Experienced Multi-Brand Franchisees Introduce Colorado and Wyoming to Better Pizza
Since 1991, Toppers Pizza has thrived throughout the Midwest by creating its own sweet spot: be the “little guy” that people are proud to call their pizza place and the growing chain that delivers what customers want. For nearly 25 years, this meant satiating hungry pizza lovers with bold, innovative flavors and high-quality ingredients – all delivered fast by friendly, passionate people. It’s a tactic that continues to work year after year – most recently, the 2016 Technomic Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report ranked Toppers as one of the top-five fastest-growing brands in the entire limited-service pizza restaurant category. Now, as Toppers continues to compete against some of the industry’s biggest chains, the brand is taking its better pizza out West – for the first time ever, Toppers will be making its way to Colorado and Wyoming.
“From the very beginning, it’s always been so important for us to be that go-to restaurant every time a customer wants convenience and a quality, made-from-scratch pizza. It’s a sweet spot that has really spoken to thousands of customers throughout the Midwest, and we can’t wait to bring those same qualities that have helped Toppers prosper in such a competitive industry to Colorado and Wyoming,” said Scott Gittrich, founder and President of Toppers Pizza. “Our goal is to keep on keeping on until we become a household name throughout the country, and we’re fortunate to have a group of dedicated franchisees to make that possible.”
The brand’s expansion in Colorado and Wyoming will be spearheaded by Todd Geatches and Clayton Hartman – co-owners of the Rocky Top Management group – who have agreed to open a total of 13 Toppers units throughout Colorado and Wyoming with plans for additional development to follow. The group aims to kick off development in the Fort Collins area, with the first location slated to open in the fourth quarter of 2016.
As Geatches and Hartman front Toppers’ growth in these untapped markets, both bring with them a wealth of knowledge in the franchise space. Geatches has worked in the restaurant industry for 32 years. Beginning his career as an Oliver’s Pizza franchisee right out of high school in 1985, Geatches later went on to work for Papa John’s as a district manager in Denver, Colorado Springs, Albuquerque and Dallas. Over the years, he watched the brand grow from 400 locations to more than 2,500. Most recently, Geatches has been heavily involved in the operations of Taco John’s, a Mexican quick-service restaurant chain, through Mountain Restaurant Management. It was with that development group that he first teamed up with Hartman to steer the brand’s growth in the greater Denver area. Today, Mountain Restaurant Management oversees nine Taco John’s locations.
After experiencing significant success with Taco John’s, Geatches and Hartman decided it was time to take their business partnership further, and they were looking to invest in a new brand. That’s when they learned about franchising opportunities with Toppers.
“Clayton and I decided to research several different chains: Papa John’s, Jet’s Pizza, Marco’s Pizza and Toppers Pizza. But what ultimately stood out was Toppers, and a big part of that was Scott Gittrich. Scott had figured out a way to target Millennials – an important demographic to go after in the food industry. He knew exactly how to target those folks and bring them into Toppers restaurants,” Geatches said. “Of course, the quality of the product was a huge factor, too. When I first tried the pizza and Topperstix I fell in love – it was superior to all the other brands in just about every way.”
Hartman also brings extensive business experience to the Rocky Top Management group. As the founding partner and chief investment officer of IFAM Capital Advisors, Hartman spent more than 33 years addressing the complex needs of high-net worth individuals, family foundations, endowments and business owners. Hartman was named one of Barron’s “Top 1000 Advisors” for four consecutive years. He’s now looking to bring that same expertise to grow Toppers out West.
“Toppers is still relatively new to the pizza industry, but the brand is already set up for dramatic growth. They know how to get things done the right way, and Scott is committed to making his brand the best out there – that’s why we decided to hone in on Toppers,” Hartman said. “Now, we’re setting Toppers up to conquer Colorado and beyond.”
Rocky Top Management is made up of Hartman and his wife, Kandy, Geatches and his wife, Kimberlee, Denny and Christine Holmes, Tony and Sandy Ross, Payden and Haley Stramel and Kevin and Morgan Whalen – an experienced group that consists primarily of family members. Ultimately, both Geatches and Hartman plan to open its 13 Toppers locations over the next three years in Fort Collins, Boulder, Cheyenne and Laramie, with plans for future development of additional stores in Castle Rock, Colorado Springs and Pueblo by the end of 2022.
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.