Former Domino's Pizza Franchisee and Papa John's Exec to Expand Toppers Pizza's Footprint
For the past 25 years, Toppers Pizza has been successfully stealing business from the big guys in the competitive pizza industry, and now, with the recent signing of former Domino’s Pizza franchisee and Papa John’s exec Mike McLaughlin and his wife Helen, the brand is recruiting some of the industry’s leading talent as new franchisees to blaze the Toppers Pizza trail into new territory.
The McLaughlins signed on to open a total of 22 franchise units between 2017 and 2022 throughout Northern Virginia and Maryland, with future plans for expansion in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The first units to open will be located in the Arlington, Fairfax, Falls Church, Alexandria and Annandale areas of Virginia.
“At its core, Toppers is a brand focused on serving the highest quality pizza with fast and friendly service. It’s a model that has proven itself to be successful time and time again,” said Scott Gittrich, founder and president of Toppers Pizza. “Our model attracts veteran restaurateurs and multi-unit franchisees looking for the next great thing to add to their portfolio. We are thrilled to partner with the McLaughlins; with Mike’s industry experience and passion for pizza, we know this is the perfect next step on Toppers’ path to industry domination.”
McLaughlin brings nearly three decades of restaurant industry experience to his newest venture with Toppers. He started his career with Domino’s Pizza, where he was a premier franchisee at a time when the brand was rapidly expanding. He then spent 12 years at Papa John’s as an area manager overseeing 30 stores in Northern Virginia. Most recently, McLaughlin decided to diversify his portfolio by franchising with Five Guys Burgers & Fries. Today, he oversees nine locations.
Despite his success as a multi-unit franchisee, McLaughlin knew he had to get back into the pizza business. Having worked with big brands like Domino’s and Papa John’s, he recognized that Toppers stands out in the marketplace in a way that other brands aren’t able to replicate.
“The corporate infrastructure that Toppers has in place makes the brand primed to shine on the national level. They’re laser-focused on helping franchisees to succeed to ultimately grow the brand across the United States. There’s definitely room for Toppers to compete with major chains, and its superior menu offerings really make it stand out,” said McLaughlin. “I ultimately decided to grow with Toppers over other pizza brands because the entire team is overflowing with passion not only for the product, but also for its customers.”
McLaughlin joins the Toppers team on the heels of one of the brand’s most successful years to date. In 2015, 73 percent of Toppers’ stores broke sales records. That impressive growth led to the brand being named one of the top-five fastest-growing brands in the entire limited-service pizza restaurant category of the 2016 Technomic Top 500 Restaurant Chain Report. Toppers will continue to build on that momentum as the brand heads into the rest of 2016.
“2016 has been a landmark year for Toppers Pizza – and we’re only halfway done with the year,” said Gittrich. “We set out at the end of 2015 with the goal of attracting the absolute best multi-unit franchisees with restaurant experience to help grow this brand the way it deserves to grow. So far, we’ve signed two major deals for 35 units in four key states: Colorado, Wyoming, Virginia and Maryland, and have no plans of slowing down. We remain focused on killer pizza with bold, innovative, and high quality toppings, delivered fast by friendly, passionate people. Twenty-five years later, we are still delivering.”