Kono Pizza Heading Into Walmart
Kono Pizza, the innovative pizza-in-a-cone brand started in 2013, is planning its first store location within a Walmart, as well as an aggressive 10-store expansion deal in the Dallas area.
The fast-growing Jersey City, NJ-based pizza franchise recently signed a deal to open 10 new locations in the greater Dallas area, as well as signing a lease for the brand’s first Walmart store location in Lancaster, S.C., which will be open by the holidays.
Given Walmart's ubiquity and high traffic, this looks like a shrewd move for these purveyors of conical pizza.
The 10-unit deal in Texas was signed with franchisee Sadashiva Pai and will include a variety of formats including potential mall kiosks, event carts, in-line and storefront locations. His first location is scheduled to open in the beginning of 2016 inside a Walmart in the Dallas market.
In addition, a new Kono Pizza kiosk unit will open in the Cherry Hill Mall in New Jersey, also set to open before Black Friday. It is the second of five locations in the Philadelphia and South Jersey area owned by multi-unit franchisee Eric Ciancaglini. His first unit—a mobile event cart in Philadelphia—opened earlier this year and kept him busy with events, including the Pope visit to Philadelphia in September.
Kono Pizza said Walmarts are an ideal location for its brand due to their strong foot traffic and the “broad audience” of shoppers.
“We will still maintain our core base of locations in well-traveled regional malls, but Walmart adds another touch point for us with our customers in a given market,” said co-founder, David Ragosa. “In addition, in markets without a strong regional enclosed mall, the Walmart in many cases is the focal area of the community for shopping.”
The company expects its non-traditional locations to be a large growth area, allowing the company to highlight the portability of its foods and the facts that its concepts can operate in tiny 150-400 square foot formats.
“For us, it’s the small spaces that are a perfect fit,” Ragosa said.
There are currently more than 30 Kono Pizza locations under development.
“The momentum we have built and continue to sustain has put us on track for a total of 50 locations in various stages of development in the pipeline by the end of the first fiscal quarter in 2016,” co-founders Ragosa and Ruggiero said in a release. “We are thrilled to be growing at such a healthy pace, and look forward to sharing our fresh, innovative concept with more and more people for years to come.”
Ragosa says the brand’s recent momentum confirms the demand for their product and franchise model.
“Interest in our concept continues to grow on a daily basis,” he said. “Entrepreneurs share in our vision to bring an internationally tested and proven concept to consumers across America. Our new carts, kiosks and in-line store models allow franchisees to break into the growing pizza segment at a significantly lower point of entry than other fast-casual brands.”
For more about Kono, check out my feature article on the brand, published in the May 2015 issue of Franchise Tiimes.