Rave Restaurant Group Inc., which opened its first airport Pie Five location earlier this year, has unveiled an express kiosk version of its Pizza Inn buffet concept for licensing in nontraditional locations like convenience stores.
The Dallas-based dual-brand pizza company said Pizza Inn Express, or PIE, kiosk will require between 50 and 100 square feet and be geared toward airports and entertainment venues as well.
The company expects to open the first Express unit in 90 days, but a spokesperson said the company is not revealing the location yet.
"This could be a game-changer for Pizza Inn as we tap into new markets and expansion opportunities for our flagship brand,” said Scott Crane, Rave CEO, in a statement.
“We're already seeing great interest from existing and potential franchisees who see this model as a new way to serve customers the same iconic, quality pizza they have come to expect, but in a faster setting,” he said.
As of the first quarter ended Sept. 24, Rave had 83 fast-casual Pie Five Pizza units and 159 domestic Pizza Inn restaurants. The company also had 60 international Pizza Inn units.
Pizza Inn’s domestic same-store sales increased 1.4 percent over the first quarter last year, the company reported, but Pie Five same-store sales declined 17.3 percent.
“The PIE kiosk is attractive to nontraditional operators because it allows them to move quickly, be more nimble, and react to changes in customer traffic and facilities, all at a minimal investment," said Bob Bafundo, Pizza Inn president, in a press release.
"It's a branded concept that's attractive enough to be the permanent centerpiece in a travel center or airport,” Bafundo said, “yet nimble enough to provide the same benefits traditional operators get from a food truck."
Crane, in releasing first-quarter earnings, said international and nontraditional development showed promise for Pie Five as well, with the brand recently opening its first location at San Francisco International Airport. “Its initial sales are fantastic,” he said.
Earlier this year, Pie Five closed 18 restaurants, half of them company-owned.
“Our turnaround plan for Rave is on-course with Pizza Inn showing positive comparable sales and unit growth in the pipeline, while Pie Five successfully exits underperforming markets and works to improve its underlying unit economics," Crane said.
For the first quarter, Rave narrowed its net loss to $356,000, or 3 cents a share, from $1.5 million, or 14 cents a share, in the prior-year period. Revenue fell 13.8 percent, to $13.2 million from $15.3 million in the same quarter last year.
Pizza Inn was founded in 1958, and the company opened its first Pie Five in 2011.
Contact Ron Ruggless at Ronald.Ruggless@Penton.com
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