Chef Anthony Russo is excited about expanding his brand into Fresno, California.

Russo's New York Pizzeria and Italian Kitchen / Facebook

Anthony Russo Eyes California With Five-Unit Franchise Deal

Franchisee Don Haines said Russo's New York-style pizza reminded him of the pies he enjoyed while growing up in New Jersey.

  • The franchise agreement with Katharina and Don Haines will bring Russo’s New York Pizzeria & Italian Kitchen to the Golden State for the first time.
  • The Haines first tried Russo’s pizza while they were living in Texas and decided the chain would be a good fit in Fresno.

A pizza-loving couple in Fresno, California, will be among the latest franchisees of Russo’s New York Pizzeria & Italian Kitchen, the fast-casual pizza brand headquartered in Houston.

Russo’s has signed a five-unit franchise agreement with the entrepreneurial husband-and-wife team, Katharina and Don Haines, the company announced recently.

Don comes from an Italian family, and Katharina spent most of her life in Europe. They were living in Texas when they dug into their first slice of pizza from Russo’s.

“It reminded me of the Italian pizza I would eat while growing up in New Jersey, something that is hard to find on the West Coast,” Don said. “You can’t find good, authentic Italian pizza for delivery or take-out in Fresno, and I’m confident that, by offering quality Italian food, Russo’s will soon become the go-to Italian restaurant in our area.”

The Haines recently moved back to California and saw a growing demand for authentic Italian cuisine in Fresno. Katharina spent many years working in event management and marketing, while Don worked for more than 30 years in the power plant business, gaining 25-plus years of management experience.

Related: Chef Anthony Russo honors his grandmother with new Nonna Pizza

Russo’s is known for its New York-style pizza and Italian family recipes. Some fan favorites include the Truffle Mushroom, Prosciutto & Burrata and Prosciutto & Fig pizzas. Other menu items include Truffle Tortellini, Caprese Pasta, Chicken Piccata and Pappardelle Carbonara as well as gourmet soups, salads and desserts.

“I’m so excited to expand our brand into California and have more guests try the recipes that I grew up using with my family,” said Chef Anthony Russo, founder and CEO of Russo’s. “The Haines are extremely passionate about authentic food and good service, which will represent Russo’s well as we enter this new state.”

In addition to the new restaurants in California, Russo’s has signed a five-unit franchise agreement to bring stores to the Benders Landing area in North Houston and additional agreements to bring Russo’s to New Caney Bridgeland, Texas. The brand has also expanded internationally in the Middle East during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Russo’s Franchise Financial Performance Average, the average unit volume of each Russo’s franchise location is $980,900; average food costs are 21%; average labor costs are 23%; and the average income is 19.2%. The average store investment ranges from $350,000 to $895,000. Qualified candidates must have at least $200,000 in liquid capital.

Russo’s currently has 50 corporate and franchised locations across Texas, Oklahoma, and Florida, plus international locations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Click here for more information on pizzeria franchising opportunities with Russo’s.