Founded in Wisconsin, Toppers Pizza has deep roots throughout the Midwest. Which is why, as the pizza company focuses on growth, Kansas is next on its list of states to infiltrate. Ripe with opportunity, one franchisee is already blazing the trail with five Toppers locations in and around the Kansas City area—all set to open within the next few years.
Toppers franchisees Kris and Sally Milligan opened their first location in Mission, Kansas in July of 2016, and they are already working towards opening up their second location in Lawrence. A restaurant and hospitality veteran, Kris has 25 years of experience under his belt as he moves forward with Toppers. His wife, Sally, has worked in marketing for 15 years and is lending her expertise to the duo’s current and upcoming locations, making connections with local businesses and hotels.
Claiming Kansas as their home after living in the Sunflower State for six years, the Milligans knew they wanted to remain in Kansas City when Kris’s previous company wanted to transfer him out of the state. Looking for different opportunities that would allow him and his family to stay put led him to learn about the Toppers franchise system. Both Kris and Sally were sold, siting the brand’s marketing, dedication to quality and uniqueness as major draws.
“The Milligans are local folks who have restaurant business experience. They’ve been fantastic new franchisees and we’re really excited to have partnered with them,” says Mark Cairns, Toppers director of franchise development. “We’re confident that other solid people will join the team solely based on the number of stores that have the potential to thrive in the Kansas market.”
The Milligans are now focused on opening their Lawrence store, where the University of Kansas is located, during 2017. The couple is particularly excited about this location, as Toppers has historically found success near colleges.
“When college town Toppers stores open, they just blow business out of the water,” says Kris.
“The Kansas City market is definitely a top tier pizza-eating market,” Cairns added. “We use an analytical tool through Buxton that tracks consumer likeness of pizza consumption in new markets, and the Kansas City market trends high. Since there’s a lot of Toppers like-minded people who are in the area, we see that market eventually having 20 to 25 units.”
Cairns says that Toppers’ growth in the Kansas City area is also leading to expansion in other major markets, like Topeka and Wichita, as well as markets in Missouri, like Springfield and Columbia, where the University of Missouri is located. Owning a Toppers location includes a $30,000 franchise fee and start-up costs ranging from $262,633 to $490,649. The “never settle” pizza brand is actively talking to prospective franchisees in these markets, waiting to see who else will join the team and take on some of the most exciting growth at Toppers this year.