Toppers Pizza, the leading better pizza franchise with 76 locations open across the country, is eyeing Kalamazoo as a market for growth. With one successful location in the state in Grand Rapids, the Midwest-based brand sees a huge potential in the market.
With its college town vibe, with nearly 25,000 college students, and small town swag, Toppers Pizza recognizes that Kalamazoo shares similar qualities to other markets where the brand has enjoyed success. With a population of 75,922, Kalamazoo shares a demographic of towns like La Crosse and Racine, both of which have similar populations falling between 50,000 to 100,000 community members.
The first franchised Toppers opened in La Crosse in 2002. In 2007, that number grew to 15 locations. This amount doubled by 2011 and again by 2014. It wasn’t long before the growth caught attention of national and industry publications. Toppers Pizza was soon ranked on lists of the top pizza chains and became recognized as one of the top 500 franchises in the nation.
Wisconsin is not the only state that has seen tremendous success with development. In Minnesota, Toppers Pizza has developed a dozen stores in strong markets like Minneapolis and St. Paul. Most recently, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the brand has added two stores within the last eight months and an additional store less than 60 miles away in Brookings, South Dakota, home to South Dakota State University.
“Kalamazoo is a market that has been on our radar for a while,” said Mark Cairns, director of franchise development at Toppers. “It’s less than 300 miles from our world headquarters and with the success we’ve seen in Grand Rapids, we wanted to expand throughout the state. We know what demographics and what type of cities work best for us, and we know we can succeed in Kalamazoo.”
Kalamazoo also offers a great economy for a new business with a cost of living 9 percent below the national average and a median income of $47,318 according to Forbes.
To begin the development process, the Toppers Pizza team focuses on cities in a desired market with the highest population density. In Kalamazoo, the brand is interested in opening up to three stores in the area with potential for restaurants in surrounding cities like Portage and Battle Creek to provide more accessibility to the brand in the community.
Toppers fanatics love the brand’s fresh, homemade and customizable pizza that is baked in about 360 seconds and delivered extremely fast. Customers are able to enjoy more than a million combinations of fresh, high quality toppings and the brand’s signature line of flavored Topperstix and baked Buffalo wings.
“We have no doubt that our commitment to convenience and quality, along with our delicious, made-from-scratch products, will instantly become fan favorites in the Kalamazoo community, like it did in similar markets,” said Scott Gittrich, founder and president of Toppers Pizza.