Demand Fuels East of Chicago Pizza Expansion Plans

""Lima, OH—March 11, 2011— It seems more people are spending time in the kitchen doing their own cooking these

days, limiting their restaurant visits for special occasions. However, according to East of Chicago Pizza executives,

customers continue to line up for the variety of pizzas served at their restaurants and soon there will be more East of

Chicago (EOC) restaurants to satisfy the growing demand for the Lima, OH-based chain.

The company has announced plans for expansion, targeting markets in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky with particular focus on regions where they already have a presence. Energetic EOC President Tony Collins said, “Our plans are to concentrate development where we already have an enthusiastic following like Cleveland, Akron and Canton metropolitan areas in Ohio, while exploring other major metro markets like Indianapolis and Lexington, Kentucky. We’re seeing a strong demand for our pizzas, especially for our signature pan pizza—the one that made us famous!”

While most pizzerias specialize in a single, signature crust style, EOC has been able to perfect not one, but five distinctive styles. This diversity allows EOC to appeal to every pizza taste from thin crust-lovers to devotees of their signature pan crust and, authentic Chicago style pizza. Collins said, “What we’re hearing from our franchise owners is that they’re seeing a lot of new customers who enjoy a particular style pizza and once they find out they can get a great pizza from us that satisfies their specific tastes, they’re hooked. It’s all about telling them that with EOC you have options. We’ve got something for everyone!”

While EOC development officials have identified specific towns and cities for development, they believe that the EOC brand will be successful in virtually any sized market because of their broad menu. Collins is also quick to point out that options at EOC extend to store design models as well, providing new franchisees opportunities to select the concept that best fits their market. He said, “In metro areas the delivery-carryout model works great, but sometimes in downtown areas or in smaller towns, the dine-in model might be the better choice. In some markets our pizzerias become more of a destination. By giving franchisees concept options their opportunities to succeed soar. Plus operationally we’ve always been strong in both dine-in and delco systems and new franchisees will benefit from our experience and direction either way.”

EOC is targeting expansion throughout Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky for now, with an eye toward broader expansion in the future. Said Collins, “It’s not important for us to grow rapidly, but to grow intelligently. Our diverse menu and pizza choices will drive our growth and by consolidating our locations geographically where we can, we will build consumer awareness more quickly. That will result in strong sales for the new stores we open. Bottom line is we’ve proven our concept works in big cities and small towns and we believe this gives us a great developmental flexibility.”
Heading the development with Collins is Mike Williams, Vice President of Operations a 16-year EOC veteran and former Marco’s marketing executive Steve Dartt recently named to fill the new Director of Development post. Collins said, “Mike, Steve and I know that we need to continue to be a strong regional player and build from our center out,” but, he added, “If someone came to us with the proper financial backing and wanted to open 20 stores outside of our regional target we’d certainly talk to them, but it would have to be a perfect development plan for us to accept them. By building in areas where we are a recognized brand, then gradually expanding, we’re increasing our chances of success on all levels.”

All the pieces are in place for steady growth and Tony Collins and his team recognizes all the distinctions that set East of Chicago Pizza apart from others in the competitive pizza industry. Collins said, “It’s all about options. We’ve got delco and dine-in. We’ve got our signature pan crust, New York-style hand-tossed thin crust, thin and crispy crust, new extra large square crust and authentic Chicago style crust. Add our proprietary, fresh cheese blend and great toppings and no matter the style every bite tells you you’re eating pizza done right!”