Straw Hat Restaurants garnered PMQ`s 2009 Pizza Industry Enterprise (PIE) Award
over the other finalists including Little Caesars.
“The combination of Straw Hat Pizza`s sales and unit growth-including growing
beyond its own goals-teamed with its ability to stay on top of trends affecting
today`s consumer, put the company out ahead of the pack,” says Liz Barrett,
Editor-in Chief for PMQ Pizza Magazine, the #1 publication in the pizza
Recently named the 5th Fastest Growing Restaurant Chain and one of the Hottest
Franchises by America`s Hottest Franchises (AHF), Straw Hat grossed more than
$40 million last year and has grown to 63 units from 38 units at the end of 2007
since president Jonathan C. Fornaci came on board in January 2008.
“Our plans are to have more than 100 units open by the end of 2010,” says
Fornaci. “So far we`re on target to meet-and possibly exceed-that goal.”
Once touted as California`s largest pizza chain, Straw Hat sold many of its
stores, in the late 1980s, but now is aggressively ramping up again. The chain
introduced a new cost-efficient “Express” is aimed at the carry-out and delivery
Begun in 1959, Fornaci says that the 100 percent franchised company runs only
one corporate store, dedicating all of its energy to helping its franchisees.
“We hold extensive training programs and send out separate teams that help with
marketing and sales,” he says. “We use a national distributor that helps
guarantee that everything is fresh; our dough is made every day in the stores,
vegetables are cut fresh, and because we`ve used the same recipes for 50 years,
none of our menu items have ever contained trans fats.”
“Even during a recession, people will not stop having parties for their kids,”
says Fornaci. “We`ve always offered a family fun place-focused on family and
good food-with a party and game room. We even offer flat-screen, controllable
TVs in every booth.”
Straw Hat, which has historically been in California, is embarking on a national
expansion to Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Oregon, Nevada, New Jersey, Texas and
Representatives from Straw Hat Pizza will accept the PIE award at Orlando Pizza
Show September 12-14, 2010 in the presence of hundreds of their industry peers.