Santa-Barbara-based Persona Neapolitan Pizzeria has inked a franchising deal to open up to 20 stores in Florida across a 10-year span, kicking off a development plan the restaurant announced earlier this year.
The State Street restaurant, which serves fast-casual, thin-crust, Neapolitan-style pizzas, is launching a string of stores in South Florida through Sager Management Group, which owns multiple franchising units in Florida, including 15 Subway and three Auntie Anne’s stores.
Sager Management Group President Steve Sager said he decided to work with Persona after seeing the success of other fast-casual pizzerias such as Blaze Pizza and the Westlake Village-based PizzaRev, which all prepare custom pizzas that are cooked and served in a matter of minutes.
“The growing number of pizzerias jumping on the fast-casual trend really got me searching for an innovative option with a broader menu and better environment,” Sager said in a news release. “When I found Persona, I knew I had found the concept that matched perfectly with what I was looking for. I have never seen a startup with Persona’s potential.”
Persona was founded by businessman and classically-trained chef Joseph Baumel and pizza-making champion Glenn Cybulski. Persona’s owners have said their chain’s faster cooking time — 90 seconds compared to the about five minutes at some of their competitors — and high-quality ingredients make them top players in the fast-casual pizza industry.
“Their speed of service, coupled with the quality of the product, is unmatched in the pizza field or any field in franchising,” Sager said in a news release.
Persona opened its doors in downtown Santa Barbara in February 2013. Cybulski told the Business Times last month that the firm plans to have more than 250 stores around the country eventually.
“Persona′s expansion into South Florida is a major milestone for the brand as we expand beyond our Santa Barbara roots,” Cybulski said in a news release. “We look forward to introducing the brand to guests in South Florida and have no doubt they will love the Neapolitan-style pizzas that have made Persona so popular.”
[CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect number for Sager Management Group’s Subway and Auntie Anne’s stores in Florida. In addition, the firm is based in New Jersey but does not have any franchises there.]