General Manager Of The Year And Franchisee Of The Year Honored At Pizza Inn Annual Conference
DALLAS, TX, July 14, 2023 — Top-performing restaurants, owners and vendors were recognized and celebrated at last night’s Pizza Inn Convention Awards Dinner. held at The Lodge at Gulf State Park, in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The annual event is a long-held and highly anticipated tradition for those who represent and work with the 65-year-old brand. During the course of three days, franchisees, suppliers, and corporate staff were gathered to share best practices, learn the state of the business, and unite on a strategy for the coming year.
Ryan Summers, who manages the company’s second-highest performing restaurant, located in Paducah, Kentucky, was named General Manager of the Year for his incomparable commitment to providing his staff and customers the highest-quality and most rewarding experiences possible. In February, the restaurant he manages will celebrate its fiftieth year in business, proving the loyalty of its fan base and unwavering excellence in product and service. The secret to their longevity, according to Summers, is that “We’re family owned and operated, so we make sure everyone who enters our doors is treated with the same respect and kindness we give each other.”
CEO of Pizza Inn’s parent company, RAVE Restaurant Group, Brandon Solano said, “Ryan is exactly what we look for in a leader. He trusts and empowers his people and creates a warm and welcoming environment where everyone feels supported and wants to come to work. He’s also extremely passionate about our brand, eager to test new products, dedicated to remembering guests by name, and steadfast in giving everyone who visits his restaurant an exceptional dining experience.”
The highest honor awarded to a Pizza Inn franchisee was given to Dion and Dorrance Firooznia as they were named Pizza Inn’s Franchisee of the Year. The Firooznias have now opened two of six Pizza Inns included in their development deal, one in Elizabethton, Tennessee, and the new Pizza Inn prototype buffet in Asheboro, North Carolina. Criteria for this award is to symbolize exemplary dedication to customer satisfaction, community service, and team leadership. It recognizes outstanding performance and contribution to the Pizza Inn chain. Both Firooznias credit their success to full commitment, hiring the best people you can find, and remaining involved in day-to-day operations in order to support them. They say, “The key to our success isn’t micromanaging. It’s being present and being a part of the team.”
Mike Burns, COO of Pizza Inn, was excited to present the award to the Firooznias, saying, “Before Dion would consider becoming a franchisee, he wanted to know our business from the inside out. That’s why he joined our company as a franchise business consultant. From that perspective, he and Dorrance recognized the opportunity to combine his stellar operations experience and her marketing know-how with our tried-and-true business model. In fact, they saw so much potential that they signed on to open six Pizza Inn restaurants. We love what they are doing for our brand and can’t wait to have them more.”
Operator of the Top 20 Pizza Inn restaurants were also presented with awards and the following franchisees were singled-out for special recognition:
- The Cornerstone Award was presented to Tony Nemer, who owns Pizza Inns in Oklahoma. Since 2020, this award has been presented to a franchisee who demonstrates outstanding commitment to growing the Pizza Inn brand through the development of new restaurants. With this year’s opening of his Enid and Blackwell, Oklahoma, locations, Tony represents two of the five net stores that have opened this year.
- Zeke Yanez, who owns the Pizza Inn franchise in Wiggins, Mississippi, received the coveted Bobby Clairday Award for his demonstration of outstanding perseverance, grit, determination, and “overall bad-assery.”
- Jarrett Lassiter, owner/operator of S&B Pizza dba Pizza Inn, in Goldsboro, North Carolina, was selected to receive The HM Poythress Community Builder award. This award is given to a franchisee who makes significant contributions to their community through their time, actions, talents, and dedications. It is given to the Pizza Inn owner who serves as a role model for compassion, service, and striving to make their communities a better place.
- The Newcomer Award went to Seth Wyatt, who assumed ownership of the Blytheville, Arkansas, Pizza Inn in January, 2022. Seth was selected because he has owned his restaurant for less than five years, he demonstrates a strong commitment to the Pizza Inn brand, adheres to company standards, is dedicated to his team members and community, and he is passionate about the future of Pizza Inn.
In addition to owners and operators who were recognized, ad agency BooneOakley was named Supplier of the Year. The firm was instrumental in this year’s re-imaging of the brand, conveying its nostalgia and resilience while also creating modern, relevant value for new consumers.
For more information, please visit https://www.pizzainn.com and to learn more about franchising opportunities visit www.pizzainn.com/franchise.
About Pizza Inn
Since 1958, Pizza Inn's popular pizza buffet and friendly service have solidified the brand as America's hometown pizza place. Unlike your typical buffet, Pizza Inn built a reputation for using house-shredded 100% whole milk mozzarella cheese, fresh ingredients and house-made signature sauce. This, combined with its small-town vibe, are the hallmarks of its restaurants that feature signature pan pizzas, chocolate chip 'pizzerts,' pasta dishes, salads and innovative creations that reflect today's customer cravings. The brand continues to thrive with new menu innovations, including its popular NYXL pizza. Follow Pizza Inn on Instagram @pizzainn and to learn more about franchising opportunities visit www.pizzainn.com/franchise.
About RAVE Restaurant Group, Inc.
Dallas-based RAVE Restaurant Group [NASDAQ: RAVE] has inspired restaurant innovation and countless customer smiles with its trailblazing pizza concepts. The Company owns, franchises, licenses and supplies Pie Five and Pizza Inn restaurants operating domestically and internationally. The Pizza Inn experience is unlike your typical buffet. Since 1958, Pizza Inn's house-shredded 100% whole milk mozzarella cheese, fresh ingredients and house-made signature sauce combined with friendly service solidified the brand to become America's favorite hometown pizza place. This, in addition to its small-town vibe, are the hallmarks of Pizza Inn restaurants. In 2011, RAVE introduced Pie Five Pizza, pioneering a fast-casual pizza brand that transformed the classic pizzeria into a concept offering personalization, sophisticated ingredients and speed. Pie Five's craft pizzas are baked fresh daily and feature house-made ingredients, creative recipes and craveable crust creations. For more information, visit www.raverg.com, and follow on Instagram @pizzainn and @piefivepizza.
Cozette Phifer, PhifeR PR