With the continued expansion of its Pie Five Pizza Co. brand, parent Pizza Inn Holdings Inc. changed its name Thursday to RAVE Restaurant Group Inc.
CEO Randy Gier said the name better reflects the company. The Colony, Tex.-based operator has grown the fast-casual Pie Five chain to 31 units. It also has 181 Pizza Inn locations in the United States and 71 internationally. Pie Five, which debuted in June 2011, will open its 32nd unit on Jan. 16.
“We’re changing the name of the company to reflect the changes we’ve gone through and, more importantly, our expectations for the future,” Gier said in an interview Wednesday. “Names matter. They communicate who you are, what you are about, where you are going.”
The company’s longtime trading symbol, PZZI, which it has used on the NASDAQ since 1993, was changed to RAVE at the market’s close Thursday.
“We want to send a message to our employees, our investors and our future investors that we aren’t your father’s Oldsmobile anymore,” Gier said. “We are a multibrand company now with Pizza Inn and Pie Five.”
The renaming came after much consideration, Gier said. Based on the company’s mission statement of “rave-able crave-able come-back-quality food,” he said, with trademark humor, that the RAVE name was aspirational and “sounded better than Multi-Brand Restaurant Co. Inc.”
“Food is an emotional thing, and so we wanted a more emotional word,” he said.
Pizza Inn is showing signs of a turnaround, Gier said, with three new buffets scheduled to be open.
“And Pie Five has really taken off,” he said. “We continue to evolve that concept. We have franchisees ready to build a lot more.”
With those trends, he said, the company is at what he called an inflection point.
“We want investors to take a new look at us and know we are something different,” Gier said, adding that the RAVE team would ring the NASDAQ closing bell Friday. “And we want our employees to come to work every day and know they are part of something bigger.”
To support more rapid growth, RAVE will invest a quarter of a million dollars in a new enterprise computer system, and add real estate and construction talent to the corporate team, he said. RAVE is raising capital for that growth, including a $10 million shelf-financing offer in the market, he added.
As for existing franchisees who might be nervous about the name change, “We’ve been talking with them about the benefits of being a larger organization, such as in purchasing synergies. There are benefits all around when we look at shared resources and purchasing,” Gier said.
While Pie Five has been growing, Pizza Inn has been overcoming some struggles, and has seen three consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth, Gier said, noting that he expected the trend to continue.
For the most recent fiscal year ended June 29, the company reported a widened net loss of $1.6 million, compared with $1.3 million the prior year, partially because of one less week in the 2014 period and investments in the Pie Five brand. Fiscal year revenue increased 2.5 percent, to $42.2 million.
For the full 2014 fiscal year, Pizza Inn’s domestic same-store sales increased 1.5 percent over the prior year, and Pie Five’s same-store sales increased 12.9 percent. Nine Pie Five restaurants opened in fiscal 2014, bringing its total unit count to 20 locations on June 29. Eleven more restaurants have opened since.
The first Pizza Inn location opened in 1958 near Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and first incorporated in 1961. Pie Five’s 31 units are located in nine states: Florida, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
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