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FDD Talk 2016: The Toppers Pizza Franchise Opportunity (Financial Performance Analysis, Estimated Costs, and Other Important Stuff You Need to Know)

by Franchise Chatter on September 6, 2016

in FDD Talk 2017: Food Franchises, Franchise Earnings, Pizza Franchises



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Toppers Pizza Franchise Exterior Photo

In this FDD Talk 2016 post, you’ll learn the following:

  • Section I – Background information on the Toppers Pizza franchise opportunity, including relevant news updates
  • Section II – Estimated initial investment for a Toppers Pizza franchise, based on Item 7 of the company’s 2016 FDD
  • Section III – Presentation and analysis of Toppers Pizza’s financial performance representations, based on Item 19 of the company’s 2016 FDD, including information on the:
  • 2015 average gross sales, cost of goods sold, gross profit, operating expenses, and EBITDA for all 17 Toppers Pizza restaurants that were open and continuously operated by the franchisor’s affiliate for a minimum of two full fiscal years as of January 3, 2016; for all 13 Toppers Pizza restaurants that were open and continuously operated by the franchisor’s affiliate for a minimum of three full fiscal years as of January 3, 2016; and for all 9 Toppers Pizza restaurants that were open and continuously operated by the franchisor’s affiliate for a minimum of four full fiscal years as of January 3, 2016
  • 2015 average gross sales for all Toppers Pizza restaurants (both affiliate-owned and franchised) that were open as of January 3, 2016, and that had been open and operating for at least one full fiscal year, at least two full fiscal years, at least three full fiscal years, at least four full fiscal years, and at least five full fiscal years, respectively

Section I – Background Information

Bold Moves for Toppers Pizza

Toppers Pizza is taking its bold approach to pizza into new territory as the brand continues to expand its footprint and keep fighting for a bigger slice of the pie.

The Wisconsin-based chain, whose mission is “Never Settle,” signed a franchise agreement in August 2016 that will bring 22 units to northern Virginia and Maryland between 2017 and 2022.

The deal features Mike McLaughlin, a former Papa John’s executive and a former Domino’s Pizza franchisee. He and his wife, Helen, bring valuable talent and experience to the venture, which also targets Baltimore and Washington, D.C., for future expansion plans.



McLaughlin, who started his pizza career with Domino’s, where he was a premier franchisee, was an area manager with Papa John’s for a dozen years, in charge of 30 stores in northern Virginia. He also franchises with Five Guys Burgers & Fries.

He chose Toppers rather than a larger chain because the brand is driven by passion on all levels.

“The corporate infrastructure that Toppers has in place makes the brand primed to shine on the national level,” McLaughlin said in a news release. “They’re laser-focused on helping franchisees to succeed to ultimately grow the brand across the United States. There’s definitely room for Toppers to compete with major chains, and its superior menu offerings really make it stand out. I ultimately decided to grow with Toppers over other pizza brands because the entire team is overflowing with passion not only for the product, but also for its customers.”

Brand to Enter Colorado, Wyoming

The agreement with the McLaughlins comes shortly after a July announcement that Toppers Pizza would be entering Colorado and Wyoming. That expansion will be led by Todd Geatches and Clayton Hartman, co-owners of Rocky Top Management. They plan to open 13 units, with more expansion to follow. Development will kick off in the Fort Collins area.

Geatches has 32 years of experience in the restaurant industry, including working as a district manager for Papa John’s in Denver, Colorado Springs, Albuquerque and Dallas.

He and Hartman chose Toppers in large part because of founder Scott Gittrich’s successful targeting of millennials.

Gittrich started the brand in 1991 in Champaign, Illinois. In 1993, the chain first moved into Wisconsin with a location in Whitewater, and the first official franchised location opened in 1997 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Franchise Opportunities Available in Most States

Toppers Pizza currently has more than 75 locations in 13 states. Toppers franchise opportunities are filled in the chain’s home state of Wisconsin, as well as Nebraska and Wyoming, and the brand is not currently franchising in the upper northeastern states, including New York and New England.

But the rest of the U.S. states have either available territories with three-store commitments or development opportunities with five-store commitments.

From Mac and Cheese to Tater Tots

Customers can buy a variety of unique specialty pizzas or design their own, using myriad combinations of quality fresh toppings, and can view their pizzas being prepared in front of them. The pizzas take about six minutes to bake, and come in both classic and new choices. Customers can get a mac-and-cheese pizza and can even, with the Loaded Tot-Zza, have a pizza that stars Tater Tots (with bacon!).



In addition to a full line of pizzas, the Toppers brand is known for its Topperstix, crispy cheese bread that ranges from the basic Original Topperstix to Baconstix and even Chocolate Baconstix. Half a dozen varieties of wings are also on the menu.

Section II – Estimated Costs

  • Please click here for detailed estimates of Toppers Pizza franchise costs, based on Item 7 of the company’s 2016 FDD (updated).

Section III – Financial Performance Representations (Item 19, 2016 FDD) and Analysis



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