This Once-Popular Pizza Chain Aims to Open 150 Locations This Year
Between multiple bankruptcy filings, dwindling locations, and a slew of negative customer feedback, it really seemed like the pizza chain known for its cheesy food court fare was on its way out. But hold onto your napkins. Now, with a new plan for growth, it appears Sbarro is making a comeback.
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The self-proclaimed "global leader in the impulse pizza category," Sbarro recently announced its plans to open over 100 new company and franchise locations in 2022. For context, Sbarro was slinging its New York-style slices, pasta, and stromboli at over 1,000 locations across the U.S. and over two dozen countries during its peak in the 2000s. But as recently as last year, it was down to nearly 600 locations, about half of which were operating in the United States. If all goes according to plan, Sbarro will open 150 new locations globally—due in large part to the company's franchise relationships with ARKO Corp's GPM Investments, EuroGarages, EG America, and Travel Centers of America.
Where will the new Sbarros pop up, exactly? More regional and super-regional malls, yes, especially since foot traffic is returning to pre-pandemic levels. But the 1956-born eatery is also eyeing 80 convenience stores, including Turkey Hill and KwikShop, nearly 20 travel centers and truck stops, as well as universities, casinos, and amusement parks, according to QSR Magazine. Beyond that, CEO David Karam believes the chain will get back to 1,000 units in fewer than 36 months.
"Sbarro is not new to convenience—we've been serving handmade XL NY slices to customers on-the-go since 1956," Karam said in a press release. "Our experience, economical business model, and position as the global QSR leader in the impulse pizza category, make convenience stores and travel centers natural fits for us. We're excited to partner with such strong organizations in this space."
And to QSR Magazine, he said, "We know that 95 percent of people around the world love to eat pizza. And so when we're positioned in high-traffic venues and people walk by who are even remotely hungry, if we're executing well—we have beautiful abundant displays of food there and operators follow the recipe—we can capture transactions and satisfy them."