This is part of the Nation’s Restaurant News annual Second 100 report, a proprietary ranking of restaurant brands Nos. 101-200 by U.S. systemwide sales and other data. This report is a companion to the Top 100 report.
The Second 100 Pizza segment grew aggregate sales 8 percent in the Latest Year on a solid performance from segment leader Hungry Howie’s Pizza and bright spots from rising brands.
Hungry Howie’s securely held on to its No. 1 rank in the segment, with U.S. systemwide sales up 10.4 percent, to $378.2 million, $146.4 million ahead of No. 2 Pizza player Pizza Ranch. The results earned Hungry Howie’s the 107th spot in the Second 100, up from No. 115.
The chain’s performance was fueled by a 10.7 percent rise in Estimated Sales Per Unit, as the Madison Heights, Mich.-based chain maintained its unit count at 548.
But behind that clear segment leader, smaller chains and relative Second 100 newcomers made their mark.
Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, the first of the rising fast-casual pizza brands to crack the Second 100, is the smallest of the six Pizza players at $183.7, but it is gaining fast.
In fact, it was the fastest-growing chain in the Second 100, with 81.9 percent Latest-Year sales growth. It increased its U.S. unit base by 61 percent in the period as well, ending the Latest Year with 169 locations. That was on top of triple-digit sales and unit growth a year earlier.
Peter Piper Pizza, which made its Second 100 debut in 2016, finished the Latest Year third in the segment, at nearly $201 million.
Peter Piper’s 98 U.S. units make it the smallest Second 100 chain, but it moved up the Pizza segment sales ranks one spot to No. 3 on a segment-leading ESPU of $2.1 million. The next closest ESPU was Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza’s $1.3 million.
Mahesh Sadarangani, senior vice president of strategic initiatives at the brand’s parent company, CEC Entertainment Inc., said a focus on the customer experience keeps people coming back for more.
“Having that mix of food and games is all about the experience,” Sadarangani said. “It’s something that a lot of our competitors don’t offer.”
Sadarangani cited Peter Piper’s on-site gaming component, which includes arcade-style video games and games that issue tickets that can be redeemed for prizes.
Sadarangani credited 25 percent of the chain’s business to arcade attractions.
The chain has a foothold in its home market of Phoenix but is looking to expand to new markets, including Oklahoma, Las Vegas and Miami.
Meanwhile, No. 5 Donatos Pizza continued its measured growth in sales and units.
Like Peter Piper Pizza, Donatos’ company-owned units account for more than a third of its locations, considerably higher ratio than its peers, whose company stores represent less than 6 percent of units.
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