Despite the restaurant company’s name, there’s nothing stupid about Village Idiot Pizza’s next move: The 33-year-old mainstay in Columbia, South Carolina—home of the University of South Carolina—has begun offering franchise partnership opportunities across the state and the Southeast, with a focus on other communities filled with very smart people.

According to owners Kelly and Brian Glynn, their goal is to make Village Idiot Pizza a college-town staple while “uniting people through pizza and community.” They’re initially looking to expand into Columbia’s surrounding areas and throughout South Carolina. The move comes in response to inquiries by customers from across South Carolina and other states, including University of South Carolina fans, alumni and devotees of other teams who have gotten hooked on the restaurant’s pies over the decades.

The Glynns met while working at Village Idiot as college students themselves—she was a server, and he was a cook. Despite the sometimes “tumultuous dynamics” between the front- and back-of-house staff, the two “immediately felt a connection,” Kelly told PMQ. Together, they bought the restaurant in 2003 and grew it to three locations in Columbia before closing one store in late 2023.

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Now the time is right for taking Village Idiot on the road, they decided. “We felt we had strong brand recognition that was well-known in our direct market as well as in other markets, due to being so immersed in a college area, and that we could be successful bringing the brand into other communities,” Kelly said. “We learned a lot about ourselves and our business coming out of COVID, and we felt the time had come to take the leap and have faith we were doing the right thing.”

Village Idiot offers New-York-style pizza in a family-friendly sports-bar atmosphere. The original pizza joint and pub was opened in Columbia’s Five Points Village in 1990 by three college friends from New Jersey who lovingly referred to themselves as “the village idiots.”

this photo shows Kelly and Brian Glynn with their twin children, who are dressed in South Carolina Gamecock-themed clothing, at a tailgate party.

Forrest Clonts Studio

The Glynns serve on local committees and boards and raise money annually for the South Carolina March of Dimes in a fundraiser called Pizza for Preemies. That cause is especially dear to their hearts because Kelly gave birth to twins when she was only 28 weeks pregnant. Throughout November, which is National Prematurity Awareness Month, Village Idiot Pizza donates a percentage of its sales from all locations to the March of Dimes.

Whether it’s football, baseball or basketball season, Village Idiot Pizza offers specials and deals to bring in the crowds, including a specialty pizza of the month—such as April’s Hot Honey Cupper (mozzarella, cupping pepperoni, onions, garlic and hot honey) and March’s Chili Cheese Dog pie (beef chili base, mozz, cheddar, sliced hot dogs and diced onions)—and a weekly Tuesday promo combining $3 pints of beer paired with a 12″ cheese or pepperoni pizza for $7. Last year the brand was named to Readers Digest’s state-by-state list of the best pizzerias in the U.S. Additionally, the Free Times named the pizzeria’s Buffalo Chicken pie one of the best pizzas in Columbia in June 2023.

The Glynns believe a long-established pizza brand in an SEC town can be transplanted just about anywhere in the sports-crazy South. “We are not just set on SEC towns, but our brand will be strong in those areas due to recognition from USC,” Kelly noted. “Pizza and wings—and beer for those of age—are a no-brainer for a college town. And with the passion we have for bringing people together through pizza, it’s a great spot for fellowship between friends and family.”

A major university isn’t necessarily a must for potential college-town markets, she added. “Smaller college areas could have the desired performance as long as there is a community that can support us during school breaks.”

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this photo shows a young woman with blonde hair, wearing a black, sleeveless shirt, pulling a slice of pizza above her head and demonstrating a good cheese pull

Forrest Clonts Studio

In addition to Columbia and the surrounding area, Kelly said she and her husband are particularly interested in South Carolina markets like Lexington, Irmo/Chapin, Charleston and Greenville, as well as Clemson and Myrtle Beach.

For the Glynns, any franchisee needs to be community-focused. “Pizza gives you a unique opportunity to really immerse yourself in the community and help people create lasting experiences,” Kelly said. “Our mission is to bring people together with a passion for pizza and community, and our future franchise partners will also need to [make] community development one of the top values of the business.”

In a press release announcing the franchise opportunity, Brian Glynn touched on the same theme of pizza and community-building. “Kelly and I have been able to live the dream of operating our own business,” he said. “Not only has this given us a great deal of personal freedom, but it has allowed us to be able to positively impact our community in so many different ways. It is beyond thrilling for us to enter this next phase of our business—a phase in which we will bring more people into our VI Pizza family. We will not only show them how to achieve these same goals, but we will walk with them through every step of the journey to ensure the same hard lessons we have learned over the years do not hinder their quest.”

Click here to learn more about franchise opportunities with Village Idiot Pizza.