Godfather’s Pizza’s New R&D Facility Features Virtual C-Store

Omaha, Neb. (April 25, 2007) – Godfather’s Pizza, one of America’s leading pizza franchises serving the convenience store industry, unveiled its new national headquarters campus in Omaha, Neb., which features a state-of-the-art “virtual c-store” in its research and development facility.
The 24,000 square-foot headquarters complex incorporates not only offices for its corporate employees, but also Godfather’s Pizza’s test kitchen, training facilities, a sensory room and a production studio for photographing products and shooting TV commercials. But the centerpiece of the new facility, according to Godfather’s Pizza’s CEO, Ron Gartlan, is the “virtual c-store” which allows R&D and training staff to test recipes and preparation techniques in space designed to simulate convenience store conditions.
“We recreated a c-store setting in our new R&D facility to help us design products
and procedures that will succeed in the challenging conditions unique to convenience stores, truck plazas and airport food service settings,” Gartlan said. “We believe this is a unique facility in the pizza business.”
          Godfather’s Pizza c-store outlets have been designed to be flexible and to operate out of as little as 200 square feet, said Bill Methven, senior vice president and manager of non-traditional franchise sales. “With our new ‘virtual c-store’, we can be sure our c-store franchisees provide their customers with the unique taste and quality Godfather’s Pizza is known for, even in the smallest, most difficult layouts, and with procedures that are simple enough for hourly staff to execute consistently.”
          Godfather’s Pizza’s c-store franchisees, which saw the new R&D facility for the first time at a VIP reception in Omaha, appear to like what they see.
“Godfather’s Pizza has become the fastest growing and highest gross margin brand in
our portfolio of food service concepts,” said Steve Oliver, director of food services for Amerada Hess Corporation, which operates 600 c-store outlets throughout the East Coast. “We congratulate Godfather’s Pizza on their new R&D facility and the commitment they’ve made to the success of their c-store franchisees.”
Mike Herman, director of convenience store operations and travel stores for Love’s
Travel Shops and Country Stores, Inc., echoed this reaction. “Godfather’s Pizza’s new R&D facility, and their focus on the needs of c-store and truck plaza operators, shows why they have been such a hit at Love’s,” Herman said. “Our locations, on average, hit 70 percent gross profit margins, and we have seen little, if any, cannibalization with our other branded QSR offerings – which is the mark of a strong food service brand.”
Godfather’s Pizza’s new headquarters, designed with room for 20 percent growth, positions the 33-year-old company for continued success in the c-store industry, as well as other non-traditional operations such as “express” service in schools, colleges and airports.
“We’re so proud of our product that we made sure our main emphasis is research and development,” Gartlan said, “because if you can’t do a good product and do it consistently, you’re not in business.”
The new R&D kitchen has a video monitor allowing technicians to be signaled when it’s time to bring a piping-hot pizza to the production studio to be photographed. The photographs are used not only in restaurants and advertising but also in training DVDs and other materials.
Keeping their finger on the pulse of consumer preference was another objective of Godfather’s Pizza’s new facility. The new sensory rooms allow Godfather’s Pizza to test new products and preparations with consumers. Taste-test subjects arrive through a separate entrance and are served through sliding panels without seeing how the product is prepared, to prevent influencing their reactions.
“One of the things we value is feedback from customers, and this is just one method for
getting it,” Gartlan said. “Such research has kept Godfather’s Pizza in touch with changing consumer tastes.” Young consumers, for example, prefer their sauce to be spicier or have more “bite,” and aren’t afraid to try new combinations of ingredients.
Regardless of age or other demographics, Gartlan said, Godfather’s Pizza’s customers prefer lots of ingredients, which is why the company advertises that it sells “pizza pie piled high.” “The key is making Godfather’s Pizza’s unique taste easy and profitable for our c-store partners to duplicate in real-world conditions. Our new R&D facility, and our ‘virtual c-store’ in particular, helps us do that.”
Godfather’s Pizza was founded in 1973 in Omaha, Neb., with the mission to serve a more delicious and abundantly topped pizza than any other in the country. Today, Godfather’s Pizza has 137 franchisees which operate approximately 600 franchise locations across the country, ranging from traditional pizza restaurants to non-traditional locations in c-stores, airports, truck plazas and schools. Approximately half of Godfather’s Pizza’s restaurants are located in these non-traditional locations.Godfather’s Pizza is ranked #7 in total locations nationally among all pizza chains. Since 1973, Godfather’s Pizza has earned a reputation for serving the highest quality pizza plus a selection of grab-and-go items, for non-traditional franchises, like chicken wings, chicken fingers, pre-made bread sticks, pepperoni rolls, pre-packaged salads, desserts and more. The privately owned company doesn’t disclose annual sales figures.