Another pizza chain eyes SW Ohio for expansion

Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom — a Colorado-based chain that operates 100 restaurants in 24 states, including Kentucky and Indiana — has announced an "accelerated franchise development expansion throughout the Midwest," including Ohio and the Dayton region.

“The growing demand for a unique dining experience and customized selection of craft beer has fueled our current success throughout the Midwest, with our existing restaurants in the region consistently performing well,” Mark A Belanger, vice president of global franchise operations and development for Broomfield, Colorado-based CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc., the parent company of Old Chicago Pizza, said in a release.

Citing a “tremendous opportunity for growth in this market,” Belanger said, “We’re eager to build on this momentum and are seeking new franchisees to introduce Old Chicago to communities in the Midwest, specifically Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.”

RELATED: Pizza wars poised to re-ignite with ‘fast-casual’ chains eyeing SW Ohio

Each Old Chicago restaurant features about 30 craft beers on tap, including eight to 12 selections dedicated to local and regional breweries, Old Chicago Pizza officials said.

Old Chicago generated $254 million in system-wide revenue in 2015, a record for the chain. Its prototype restaurant is a 5,000 square feet eatery with an additional 1,000 to 1,200 square feet of outdoor patio space.

The company is seeking multi-unit operators “with business, management and food-service and/or restaurant experience, and a passion for and commitment to exceptional customer service,” according to a release.

In a follow-up email response to questions from this news outlet, a spokeswoman for Old Chicago Pizza described the financial requirements of a prospective franchise owner:

"The total investment necessary to begin operation of a franchised Old Chicago Restaurant is $1.3 million to $2 million" per unit, not including the cost of the land. "Old Chicago requires a minimum deal of three units or more. There is a one-time development fee of $50,000. When a restaurant location is determined, the franchisee will pay Old Chicago Franchising LLC an Initial Franchise Fee of $40,000." For information about franchise opportunities, visit

RELATED: MOD Pizza confirms 1st Dayton-area restaurant will open in Englewood

News of Old Chicago’s potential expansion comes amid a pizza wars of sorts in the Dayton area. An entirely new segment of “fast-casual” pizza restaurants that didn’t exist in the Dayton area until about a year ago have targeted the region: Kettering-based Rapid Fired Pizza has opened a half-dozen Dayton-area locations since September 2015 and has four more in the works, plus dozens more in various stages of negotiation or development across southwest and west-central Ohio; Cleveland-based PizzaFire has opened its first location on Far Hills Drive in Kettering; and Seattle-based MOD Pizza has restaurants in the works in Englewood and at the Cornerstone of Centerville development.

All of those pizza chains share a build-your-own service concept that allows diners to customize their toppings and watch their pies baked in a blazing-hot oven in three minutes or less. Old Chicago serves what appears to be a thicker pie than the fast-casual restaurants and offers table service.

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