David Chatkin was finishing his MBA 20 years ago when he decided to become a restaurant franchisee, choosing Sarpino’s Pizzeria. He’s now president of Sarpino’s, a Chicago-based fast-casual pizza restaurant using fresh ingredients to produce ready-to-deliver pizzas.
“I liked that the concept was fresh food and convenience combined together,” Chatkin told Nation’s Restaurant News. “[I liked that] we can charge higher prices because product was superior.”
This pizza brand is planning to expand nationwide this year. Sarpino’s currently has nearly 50 units in Georgia, Iowa, Missouri, Texas, Florida, Minnesota and Illinois and is planning to add another 25 in the next few years, entering states like Colorado and expanding in Florida.
That’s after a three-year franchising hiatus.
“It’s a brand with 45 stores which is virtually unknown out there right now, which is kind of unusual and that’s something I’ve never seen before,” said Sarpino’s director of franchise development Scott Nelowet.
The chain places an emphasis on quality.
“I’ll tell you one of my favorite moments, when [prospective franchisees] go in the back and the and they watch [the cooks] shredding cheese,” said Nelowet. “And the question that they have for me — which is the question I actually had for David — was why shred the cheese, it’s so much easier and cheaper just to get bags of shredded cheese.”
Chatkin explained to Nelowet that gas seeps into bags of pre-shredded cheese, making it not as fresh.
Sarpino’s also prides itself on its technological prowess.
“I went to a store in Miramar in Florida, where half the staff spoke Spanish only, the other half spoke Ukrainian only, and they were able to work together seamlessly and get their jobs done because it’s all designed in a system,” Nelowet said.
A lot of the brand’s technology focus is at the front of the house, with ordering systems and QR codes. But most of the focus is in the back of the house, in scheduling platforms and delivery programs.
“You cannot deliver food fast and efficiently manage the drivers if you don’t have technology,” said Chatkin.
The restaurant offers direct no-fee delivery, something that’s been a trademark of Sarpino’s from the beginning.
“We’re producing fresh food, but we’re also very much concerned about convenience for the consumer. So, we produce fresh food, but we can deliver it in the same time that major pizza brands can deliver their pizzas,” Chatkin said.