SAN DIEGO CiCi's Pizza said new franchisee Melissa Carter would open the chain's first buffet restaurant in California next week.
Coppell, Texas-based CiCi’s, with nearly 650 restaurants in 32 states, already has a carryout-only location in California city of Gardena. The chain's first buffet operation in Southern California will come just ahead of a another pizza player, Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza of Vancouver, Wash.
Papa Murphy’s, with about 1,100 restaurants in 31 states and Canada, will open in Dana Point, Calif., in about two weeks, according to franchisee Ann Striker. She and partner Marty Lewis have an agreement with franchisor Papa Murphy’s International to open eight locations within three years in Orange County.
In the economically hard-hit Southern California market, CiCi’s and Papa Murphy’s join the usual cast of national chain characters, including Domino’s, Papa John’s and Pizza Hut, as well as branches of such California-based systems as Ameci Pizza & Pasta, Me-n-Ed’s, Round Table Pizza, Shakey’s and zpizza.
Carter, the new CiCi’s franchisee, said she would follow a chain tradition by giving a certificate good for free pizza for a year to the first 100 people in line on opening day at the new University Avenue restaurant in San Diego
“We are excited about the prospects for this new territory and Melissa Carter,” said Craig Moore, CiCi’s president and chief executive, who added that the chain’s opening on the West Coast “is a significant milestone in our expansion.”
CiCi’s, whose parent is CiCi Enterprises Inc., sells pizzas in the conventional whole-pie manner, but is also known for its buffet of 16 different pizzas, pastas, salads and desserts, for which it charges around $5. It reported 2008 systemwide sales of $579.9 million from 638 restaurants, including 20 company-operated sites.
Papa Murphy’s, which sells pizzas, lasagna and bread items, cooked at home by patrons, as well as prepared salads, had 2008 U.S.-only systemwide sales of $581 million from 1,056 franchised and 63 company-operated restaurants.
Contact Alan J. Liddle at [email protected] .