It’s easy to remember the good old days when the family was in for the night, had a VHS in the VCR and the pizza was on its way. The concept of pizza delivery took off in the ‘80s, as customers realized the convenience that came with dinner being delivered straight to their door. Since then, it has remained a booming market. Today, pizza delivery is as strong as ever, and Toppers Pizza has been able to maintain the fun and excitement that existed during that boom period more than 30 years ago.
Todd Geatches can attest to the power of that nostalgia. Geatches began his career at an Oliver’s Pizza franchise location after high school in 1985 before going on to work for Papa John’s as a district manager throughout the west, helping the brand grow from 400 locations to over 2,500 throughout the ‘90s. However, his next career move took him to tacos, and Geatches has been heavily involved in the operations of Taco John’s with his business partner and co-owner of Rocky Top Management group, Clayton Hartman. But even with the success he has enjoyed with Taco John’s, something was missing.
“The corporate structure was a little over-bearing to me,” Geatches explained. “I have more of an entrepreneurial spirit, and I was feeling a bit restricted in the corporate environment.”
Thus, Geatches followed his entrepreneurial instinct and moved forward with something he was already passionate about—really good pizza and the convenience of delivery. After researching several different chains—places like Papa John’s, Jet’s Pizza and Marco’s Pizza—it was Toppers Pizza that stood out to him. He was inspired by the energy that founder Scott Gittrich brought to the brand, and he fell in love with the quality of the product itself. Excited about the brand’s potential, he signed on for a 13-unit deal with Toppers Pizza, where he would spearhead the Midwest-based brand’s expansion throughout the west.
With seven of Geatches’ stores currently in development, Toppers Pizza recognizes an even larger growth opportunity throughout Colorado. With plans to open 25 additional locations in Denver alone, the brand is putting a focus on partnering with multi-unit operators in Colorado’s largest city.
This development in Colorado comes after a successful 2016, where Toppers Pizza experienced tremendous growth including climbing sales and three signed multi-unit development deals that will ultimately add 41 new locations to Toppers’ ever-growing network. In the first half of 2017, Toppers Pizza will surpass 80 stores, and the company has a goal of reaching 700 locations in the next ten years. The brand has enjoyed recognition from top industry publications and entities such as landing on Entrepreneur Magazine's ranking of the top 500 franchises in the U.S for the third year in a row in 2017 and landing on QSR Magazine's listing of the Best Franchise Deals.
The investment in a Toppers Pizza franchise ranges between $291,666 and $527,152. Franchisees fees start at $30,000 for the first unit and decrease to $20,000 for the second and third units, $15,000 for the fourth and fifth, and only $10,000 for six and above. The brand also rolled out a new prototype to kick off 2017, which increases transparency and creates a more welcoming environment for guests, while enhancing the flexibility of the real estate footprint. This makes it easier for franchisees to locate and sign for endcaps, inline stores, or freestanding locations.
“With the work that Todd is doing with his team in expanding the Toppers brand in Colorado, there is tremendous opportunity to grow in Denver and other areas of the state,” said Mark Cairns, director of franchise development of Toppers Pizza. “We know that our concept will thrive in markets throughout Colorado.”
Colorado is a no-brainer as an expansion market for Toppers Pizza. Closely following the legalization of marijuana, the pizza segment has proven even more popular throughout the state. In fact, as reported recently by USA Today, Peyton Manning, owner of 20 Papa John’s locations in Colorado, has attributed much of his success to marijuana legalization. Toppers Pizza is the perfect choice for qualified operators in Colorado, given the brand’s celebration of National Topperstix Day on 4/20 every year--a nod to the voracious munchies their Toppers fanatics seem to always have on that day of the year.
“We’re excited to get going in Colorado,” said Cairns. “With the right multi-unit players and positive momentum, we expect to be a statewide fan favorite in no time.”