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The Kids Are All Right, Toppers Founder Says


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Scott Gittrich is founder of Toppers Pizza and will speak on a founders panel today at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Las Vegas.

For any boomers who love to hate on the “kids today,” the founder of Toppers Pizza has a few words for you: Knock it off.

“I meet so many 20-year-olds in my business, and these people can do anything. They are special people,” Scott Gittrich told me in an interview today at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference.

“I get asked fairly often, don’t you think young people these days are—fill in the blank? I say, No! They’re as driven as anybody. No! 20-year-olds are just fine. If you think 20-year-olds have a problem, you’re the one who needs to have your head screwed in straight.”

Gittrich is now 54, but he got his first management job in a Domino’s franchise  restaurant at age 20. “I was learning how to run a business at a very fast clip,” he said. I was working my ass off and loving every bit of it. The culture was so special."

What did he like about it? “You’re on the edge of getting your butt kicked all the time. You’re working with the same people every day. You feel like it matters. I love the pizza business because we bring the party to people.”

Gittrich said at Toppers, they gear their marketing toward that 20-year-old customer, with an irreverent, some would say vulgar, edge. He’s learned not to stray from that voice even as his brand has grown.

“Our voice is a 20-year-old. We like to talk smack about the competition,” he said. “I used to be the demographic,” but he is no longer. He is, however, preparing to run his first marathon, in Philadelphia, this weekend,  which led him to NOT do his usual fine-dining, late-nights routine in Las Vegas.

Yesterday, on the first day of RFDC, he had a salad and went to bed at 8:30, he said. In other words, there really is a difference between baby boomers and those kids today, but not the negative stereotype so many like to believe.

The Restaurant Finance & Development Conference, presented by The Restaurant Finance Monitor, FT’s sister publication, runs through Wednesday noon at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.

 

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is associate editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
 
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Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at
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Nancy WeingartnerNancy Weingartner is editor-at-large of Franchise Times magazine and the editor of the Food On Demand media project. You can reach her at 612-767-3200 or at nancyw@franchisetimes.com.
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