Uncle Maddio’s Pizza

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Uncle Maddio’s Pizza is in the midst of rapid expansion

with the goal of reaching 300 locations in the next five years.

By Janice Hoppe-Spiers

Fast-casual pizza is officially a craze and restaurants are opening in nearly every city in the country. Many claim to have the best, freshest or the most authentic Neapolitan- or New York-style pies.

Uncle Maddio’s Pizza takes the competition seriously.

The company sets its pies apart with thin and crispy crusts made from a New York recipe in three different styles and 45 different high-quality toppings. Uncle Maddio’s also focuses on guest service like none other.

“We are one of the top fast casual brands that play in New York-style, thin and crispy crust pizza,” CEO Matt Andrew says. “According to Uncle Maddios Fact Box[Chicago-based research group] Technomic, the majority of market share is New York-style and we strategically picked that because we knew it was the largest of all pizza categories with the biggest opportunity and enormous growth potential.” 

Tops in Taste

Andrew founded the Atlanta-based fast-casual pizza joint in 2009. Every menu item is made-to-order, including six- to 16-inch pizzas, salads and the Foldwich® – Uncle Maddio’s version of a sandwich on pizza dough. The company offers three different dough options, seven sauce options and more than 45 different cheese, meat or veggie toppings for its pizza.

“We are different than other fast casual pizza spots because of the depth and breadth of our menu,” Andrew says. “We operate more like an Italian café. Of course, we have our signature create -your-own pizza, but our dinner-size, made to order salads and trademarked Foldwiches along with beers, wines, and desserts offer guests hundreds of choices.”

Uncle Maddio’s also offers a robust in-home or office dining option. Its 16-inch pizza is perfect for sharing and catering.

Uncle Maddio’s “Be My Guest” program invites potential customers to try a menu item on the house because the company knows that once they do the work to get them in, there is a strong intent to return. “We don’t discount our core products. We invite people in to try us with a VIP card,” Vice President of Operations and Training Jenelle Brown says. “We know we have the best pizza in town and retention is not an issue; therefore, we focus on building awareness as that is vital in an emerging brand.”

Brand Expansion

Uncle Maddio’s began franchising in 2011 after validating the strength of the model. This allowed for strategic, meaningful growth. Andrew says the company is about to hit the accelerator button on franchisee growth. “We are executing against a five-year strategic plan to have 300 stores open in that time,” Andrew says. We are in hyper-growth mode with the pipeline of franchisees coming to our brand.”

Uncle Maddio’s currently has 40 brick-and-mortar locations in 15 states and 30 markets. It’s adding new markets in the coming year throughout the U.S. The company is also expanding into non-traditional spaces. This fall, it will open Uncle Maddio’s in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Franchisees who align with Uncle Maddio’s “Served with Love™” culture, which focuses on strong relationships, become the best partners, the company says. Uncle Maddio’s franchisees are a “healthy mix” of entrepreneurial-focused investors and experienced owner operators. “We have a tremendous amount of restaurant experience and a wealth of knowledge around the brand, our franchisees benefit from this and see results,” Brown says. “The common thread among our franchisees is that they want to take part in building a brand, they are successful in life and passionate about being good partners.”

Andrew was the co-founder of Moe’s Southwest Grill and says he borrowed some of its best practices, particularly as it relates to growing Uncle Maddio’s franchise program. Uncle Maddio’s vets potential franchisees, but the company also expects to be vetted itself. “We look for a great fit not only in terms of a franchisee’s balance sheet and experience, but to also make sure they are successful in life and live our culture,” Andrew adds. “That’s a big filter and not everyone passes.”

Built to Succeed

Uncle Maddio’s supports its franchisees in the site selection process, helping them secure A+ locations in towns throughout the United States. Uncle Maddio’s partners with a third-party company to run analytics on every site to predict high average unit volumes and understand the trade area. “We know what we are trying to achieve from year one and beyond, and one way we accomplish this is through using the latest technology,” Andrew notes.

Once a site is selected, Uncle Maddio’s guides franchisees through the architectural design and construction all the way through to the restaurants opening. Brown and her team provide comprehensive training at the company’s headquarters in Atlanta and train employees in the restaurant to ensure quality and consistency. “Our support starts when whey sign the franchise agreement,” Brown says. “Franchisees are given a roadmap to success along with a countdown to opening detailing the process.”

Moving forward, Uncle Maddio’s plans to continue to expand into new markets with brand confidence. “One of the trends we are seeing in fast-casual pizza is consolidation among the Neapolitan or wood-fired players,” Andrew notes. “Neapolitan captures a smaller percent of the market and there’s no way so many brands can divvy up that slice of the pie. We won’t have to be distracted by that and can continue to grow our brand unencumbered.”


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