Giordano's moving past bankruptcy and into expansion
Only four years after applying for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011, Giordano’s Pizzeria is headed toward accelerated growth, as a result of a combination of new management and old recipes. According to the pizza chain’s VP of Franchise Development Eric Brown, the filing was not a failure of Giordano’s product but rather a series of questionable business decisions on the part of the brand’s first owners. “Giordano’s pizza never suffered, it was a casualty of some bad real estate deals,” he said. “They got in over their heads.”
Victory Park Capital—the investment group that bought Giordano’s off the auction block in 2011—has been able to begin to turn the company around without significant changes to the Giordano’s brand. The new owners’ first priority was to bring on new leadership (including the company’s current CEO Yorgo Koutsogiorgas) and chefs to enhance and expand the menu. Victory Park reassured Giordano’s franchisees “that their business [was] going to be solid with this ownership change,” Brown said.
After establishing a stronger foundation, and keeping the restaurant’s famous stuffed pizza (NOT deep-dish, Brown stressed) as the menu’s “star,” Giordano’s has been able to focus on growth instead of simply staying afloat. The new executive team has been working “to expand the brand outside of [the] core market,” Brown said.
Expansion applied not only to locations outside of the brand’s home base of Chicago, but to the menu as well. Brown believes the restaurant’s inclusion of pastas, salads and sandwiches is a large part of its success in the last four years, because these options help to remove the veto vote.
Giordano’s newest company-owned location opened on July 15; Denver is slated to be next. The chain is also scouting Phoenix, Arizona; Houston, Texas; New York; and Northern California as viable markets.