Little Caesars eyes Austin store

Published 12:13 pm Saturday, July 13, 2013

AUSTIN — A national pizza chain is hot and ready to return to Austin.

Bob Mazziotti, vice president of franchise development for Little Caesars, said the company is targeting a new store in Austin as part of a nationwide push to move toward secondary markets — smaller, growing towns removed from metropolitan areas.

“We’re marketing the fact that we are looking in this particular town for people that are looking at franchising,” Mazziotti said.

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Little Caesars previously had a store in Austin up until about 16 years ago, Mazziotti said, and a Kmart location that closed a few years later.

“We are looking forward to re-entering Austin with a brand-new product line and enhanced operating system,” he said, adding the company has experience continual sales and store growth for more than ten years.

Through a computer analysis of its demographics, Little Caesar’s determined Austin was a good community for a new franchise. Mazziotti said the $5 price point of the company’s Hot-N’-Ready pizzas would compete well with other local pizza places.

Mazziotti said the company would prefer to find an Austin resident who already knows the market and local organizations, such as charities.

“It’s much easier if we could do it with someone that’s familiar with it, rather than a transplant,” he said. “The one thing that we’re very proud of is our franchisees are involved in the community.”

Franchise owners have helped feed the needy through the company’s Love Kitchen program, which has helped following disasters like the tornados in Oklahoma and hurricanes in New Jersey.

Mazziotti said the restaurant could take until late this year or the first half of next year to open.

“It will take its natural time because getting involved in small business doesn’t move that quickly,” he said.

Once Little Caesars finds a franchisee, its franchise development and real estate departments work together to educate the person on how to run the business and find an ideal location. The franchisee, once chosen, would ultimately choose where the restaurant would go, though Mazziotti said in-line shopping centers and strip malls are typically targeted, so residents can pick up a pizza and drive home.

An Austin location would likely employ 15 to 30 people, with more employees in the first few weeks as training takes places.