The pandemic seemed to signal the demise of buffet-style dining, but the executive team behind Pizza Inn has been working to buck the odds.
The company reported a net gain of two stores in 2022. Now, in 2023, Pizza Inn franchisee Scott Brake recently opened a new store in Benton, Arkansas, offering the buffet-style chain’s signature pizzas, pastas and desserts for dine-in, delivery, carryout and catering. The restaurant employs about 60 Benton residents and will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Pizza Inn is also reimagining its store design for a new restaurant in Asheboro, North Carolina, scheduled to open later this month. Another store opened in April in Enid, Oklahoma.
“The fact is, many people fondly remember Pizza Inn as an impactful part of their childhood,” said Brandon Solano, CEO of RAVE Restaurant Group, Pizza Inn’s parent company. “That’s why we’re bringing our updated look and beloved business model to markets that were previously part of our geographic footprint, like the Little Rock area. We believe we can recapture fans and leverage our ‘latent brand equity’ in these communities.”
Pizza Inn aims to reclaim a leadership position in the restaurant industry. During the past two years, the brand has introduced a new prototype and imagery, announced positive net growth of buffet units and reported consistent sales increases.
“This is the second new Pizza Inn buffet to open in as many weeks,” Solano said. “Our healthy pipeline of new stores indicates our strategy is working.”
The Benton Pizza Inn spans 2,780 square feet and can serve 119 guests. It will offer specialty pizzas including the Chicken Fajita, Loaded Baked Potato, Buffalo Chicken and Taco pizzas, as well as desserts, called “Pizzerts,” and video games. Regular specials include a Monday Night Seniors Buffet for $8.99 and a Tuesday Night Kids Buffet for 99 cents with the purchase of an adult buffet. Customers who join Pizza Inn’s Loyalty Punch Card Program can earn a free buffet.