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EXCLUSIVE: Chicago-style pizza giant Giordano's eyes Cincinnati as expansion market

At least two local restaurants planned
Posted: 9:00 AM, Jun 30, 2015
Updated: 2016-06-08 12:23:53-04
Giordano's planning deep dish Cincy expansion
Giordano's planning deep dish Cincy expansion
Giordano's planning deep dish Cincy expansion
Giordano's planning deep dish Cincy expansion

CINCINNATI - Chicago-style pizza-giant Giordano’s wants a slice of the Cincinnati market.

The 52-unit restaurant chain, known for a stuffed, deep-dish pizza that takes 45 minutes to make and days to consume, is scouting sites in Cincinnati for at least two new restaurants. Sites in Kenwood, Downtown and Liberty Township have all been considered. The company hopes to sign its first lease by year end.

“Cincinnati’s a very good area,” Giordano’s CEO Yorgo Koutsogiorgas told WCPO in an exclusive interview. “We would love to be there.”

David Sheehy, an Anchor Associates broker who represents Giordano’s, said the company’s first-choice site is in the northeast corridor. But he thinks Cincinnati could support more than just two locations.

“I would say at least half a dozen,” Sheehy said.

According to the company’s website, Giordano’s signature menu offering is an “Italian Easter Pie” their mother made for Efren and Joseph Boglio in their northern Italy hometown a half century ago. After founding Giordano’s in 1974, the Boglio brothers sold the company in the late 1980s. A subsequent owner went bankrupt in 2011. Victory Park Capital bought the company out of bankruptcy and hired Koutsogiorgas as CEO in 2012. The company recently announced a $51 million credit facility to finance future expansion.

Giordano's planning at least two Cincinnati restaurants

Giordano’s has been rumored to be looking at Denver, Houston and Minneapolis in the last several months. But Koutsogiorgas said there is an affinity between Ohio and Chicago that makes Cincinnati a natural choice for expansion.

“Ohio – especially the two markets that we are looking at, Columbus and Cincinnati – is one of the strongest markets for us in terms of shipment” of online pizza orders, he said. “Definitely there is an awareness about the product we have and the quality that actually resonates with people in Ohio.”

Koutsogiorgas said the restaurant is looking to sign 10-year leases on spaces of 4,000 to 5,000 square feet. He said a typical Giordano’s employs about 40 people and generates revenue of $4 million to $10 million annually.

“We’re a long-term player,” he said. “We build our business over time and become engaged with the community.”

Giordano’s is looking to open eight to 10 restaurants a year for the next three to five years. It currently has five restaurants under development, including a third location in Indianapolis, where the company has performed better than originally expected.

Giordano's interior

In Ohio, Giordano’s will encounter a market that already has about 3,800 pizza restaurants, 54 percent of which are independent operators with fewer than 10 locations, according to the 2015 Pizza Power Report by PMQ Pizza Magazine.

It says the nation’s 73,000 pizza restaurants generated revenue of $38.5 billion in 2014, up 3 percent from the year before. A recent report by food industry consultant Technomic indicates “build-your-own” pizza chains like MOD Pizza, Pie Five and Pieology are the fastest-growing competitors nationwide.

“We’re not coming to Cincinnati to claim that we’re going to take pizza business away from anybody,” Koutsogiorgas said. “We’re going to add another option, which in my view will be a wonderful option.”