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Q&A with Brian Petruzzi, Founder of 1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza

by Franchise Chatter on March 12, 2016

in Fast Casual Restaurant Franchise, Pizza Franchises, Q & A Interview

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Brian Petruzzi (right), founder of 1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza, with Manish Khanna, franchise partner in Cherry Hill, NJ

In this Franchise Chatter Q&A, we get to learn about 1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza from its founder Brian Petruzzi.

Franchise Chatter (FC):  How did you get the idea to start your own fast casual customizable pizza franchise?

Brian Petruzzi (BP):  I’ve always thought of myself as a serial entrepreneur. I started my very first business as a young boy, at the age of 11 delivering newspapers, mowing lawns and shoveling snow. By the time I was a sophomore in college, I had amassed more than $2 million in revenue through a variety of businesses – everything from movie rental stores and frozen yogurt shops to spray tan parlors and domain holding companies.

Being of Neapolitan descent, I’ve always had an affinity to Neapolitan style pizza and thought it to be the perfect fit for a fast/fresh casual pizzeria. Having franchise experience, my next goal was to bring the country’s best Neapolitan style pizza to a franchisable model.

I founded 1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza with the goal of serving customizable, authentic Neapolitan pizza on hand-tossed, never frozen dough and topped with more than 50 of the finest, freshest ingredients. 1000 Degrees pizza perfectly captures American appeal and old world Neapolitan flavor.

Each pie is familiar to New York style pizza, but maintains the light and airy appeal of Neapolitan style with a thin, slightly-charred crust.

FC:  Does 1000 Degrees offer a menu of signature pizzas?

BP:  1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza has more than 12 varieties of specialty pizzas including guest favorites like The Smokey Pollo, also known as Barbecue Bourbon Chicken, which features sweet and smokey bourbon barbecue sauce, roasted chicken, red onion, pineapple, shredded Grande brand mozzarella and blue cheeses, and The Philly which is a cheese steak pizza topped with thinly sliced rib-eye, caramelized Spanish onions, balsamic glaze, shredded Grande brand mozzarella and provolone cheeses.

FC:  It looks like 1000 Degrees is beginning to break ground in new locations across the country. What is the growth strategy?

BP:  Yes, 1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza currently has 16 domestic restaurants open in New Jersey, Michigan, Arizona, Texas, North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut and one location in Malaysia. By the end of 2016, we plan to have 80-100 U.S. locations open.

FC:  Why would someone choose 1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza over a competing build-your-own pizza franchise?

BP:  Interested franchisees would choose 1000 Degrees over competitors because we provide full training inside our corporate stores along with complete guidance while your location is being built.

We also provide all product distributor contacts and 1000 Degrees account discounts along with a protected territory around locations. Multi-unit operators as well as local area developers are given discounts based on commitment.

Franchisees receive rights and access to our proprietary recipes including, but not limited to, our sauces, our doughs and cheeses, our trademarks and the use of the 1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza brand name.

In addition, customers love our 1000 Degrees experience. Our stores have a “cult-like” following of pizza connoisseurs who understand the 1000 Degrees difference after sampling our pizzas.

Our New Media (social media) marketing platform is also second to none. Just like our pizza, our marketing strategy is leaps and bounds above our competition.

Finally, I have experience and expertise, including launching another successful 20+ store food franchise.

Our operations and marketing teams guide our franchise partners through everything necessary to give them the greatest opportunity to succeed beyond expectations.

FC:  Are you concerned about the number of competitors rising in the fast casual pizza space? How does your business have long-term staying power?

BP:  I feel there are three main things that set us apart from competitors, and will ultimately make us leaders in the fast casual pizza space.

Dough:  Our authentic Neapolitan dough recipe dates back over 100 years from the Campania region of Italy (Naples). Our authentic Neapolitan dough is made fresh daily using imported “tipo 00” flour, and is mixed using an authentic “fork-style” mixer. We do not use the “dough hook” style traditional mixer used in most pizzerias across the country. Our “fork-style” mixer is pivotal to the end product. A crispy, airy, light-on-the-belly crust, that is thin and extremely tasty. Each day, our dough is made fresh in each restaurant, and hand tossed giving us the best tasting authentic Neapolitan pizza anywhere.

Sauces:  Our delicious San-Marzano and Cherry tomato-based sauces will be the best customers have ever tasted. We also offer a wide range of other delicious sauces, including spicy sriracha marinara, blue cheese buffalo, pesto, and smokey bourbon barbecue to name a few.

Oven:  Part of operating in a fast casual environment is having a process that works. We use a hand-made, proprietary oven that cooks our pizzas to perfection in about 2 minutes. Our hand tossed pizzas cook for just about 120 seconds and are back to the customer minutes after placing their order.

FC:  What is the typical investment to open a 1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza?

BP:  Franchise fees range from $25,000 to $29,500 for single versus multiple stores. There is a monthly royalty fee of five to six percent of gross sales plus two percent for the national marketing fund. Discounts for multi-store operators are given based on number of units. The overall build out and equipment cost of a 1000 Degrees restaurant ranges from $175,000 to $425,000 on average.

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