SONOMA Calif. Cullen Williamson has stepped down as chief executive of the Mary’s Pizza Shack chain in Northern California to launch a new fast-casual variant of the family-owned Italian concept, the company announced Monday.
Williamson is the grandson-in-law of founder Mary Fazio, who opened the first Mary’s Pizza Shack 50 years ago in Boyes Hot Springs, Calif. He has been replaced as chief executive by Vince Albano, a grandson of Fazio and Williamson’s brother-in-law. The change in leadership was effective June 5.
The new as-yet-unnamed concept will feature a similar menu of Fazio’s original recipes, including pizzas, pastas, salads and sandwiches, but with order-at-the-counter service and a lower price point. Williamson said he expects the first location to open in the first quarter of 2010.
Mary’s Pizza Shack, a full-service casual-dining concept, offers roughly 120 menu items and has a per-person check average of about $12.50 to $13. The new fast-casual concept will offer a shortened menu of about 30 items and the company will aim for a check average of about $8.50 to $10 per person, Williamson said.
Williamson, who remains on the board at Mary’s, will share ownership with Mary’s Pizza Shack as majority owner of the new corporation.
Albano grew up in the company, working in every aspect of the business, officials said.
“I’m truly honored to take on this role in the company,” he said. “Mary’s is a family company in every sense, and we have a great team in place. We’re excited about the next 50 years.”
Based in Sonoma, Mary’s Pizza Shack operates 18 locations in Northern California and is known for meatballs, pasta sauces, pizzas, soups and salad dressings.