Discover more from Fast Casual Nation
Pizza Factory | Growing A Restaurant Brand While Keeping Community Focused
The Fast Casual Nation Podcast offers exclusive interviews with experts ranging from top chefs and brand makers to executives and restaurants who work in one of the fastest-growing segments of the restaurant industry. In this episode, I talk with Mary Jane Riva, chief executive officer and president of the Pizza Factory about growing the brand and the importance of community.
Riva has been in the industry for more than thirty years. She worked in a donut shop at 16 years old, which led to owning her own shop. Riva got into pizza with her husband and became a franchisee for Pizza Factory for twenty-four years. In 2012 Riva became the CEO of the brand that has over 100 locations across the country. Riva says, “Over our time in Southern California, we ended up opening about five stores and then fast forward to 2012 when the founders asked us if we would like to buy the company.” She goes on to say that what she likes most about being an entrepreneur is the idea of not knowing what everyday will be like and how it will not be the same. “So it's kind of exciting, challenging, so that's what really kind of kept me in this business,” Riva adds.
Riva’s experience as a franchisee helped her transition into becoming a franchisor. The Pizza Factory franchisees had trust and offered support as she stepped into her new role. She says, “And I think the biggest thing was probably the easiest for them to accept about the whole thing was that they knew I was a franchisee, they knew I knew exactly what they were going through, and I still have stores.”
We talk about the importance of community and Riva shares that the founders started back in 1985 and their idea was to go into small towns and be a part of it, work in it and support that community. Riva says, “As a company, we also take on some initiatives in addition to what our stores do and our stores do amazing things in their communities. Our franchisees are so giving and so involved in their communities. We have the anti bully program, we work with No Kid Hungry and we're starting with One Tree Planted. So being a part of the community we just feel is the right thing to do and ultimately, you get what you give. And if you are supporting your community, they're going to support you back.”
To hear Riva talk about growth plans for the Pizza Factory and her top three tips for franchisee satisfaction check out this episode of Fast Casual Nation or tune in on Apple Podcasts.
Fast Casual Nation is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and our deep-dive research, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.