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QSR Magazine
Dec 24, 2019 | Original Article

Donatos Pizza is heading to the Sunshine State.

The fast-casual pizza chain famous for its Edge-to-Edge toppings has signed three separate franchise agreements for the development of 13 restaurants across the state, from Jacksonville to Orlando and along the Florida Gulf Coast.

“This surge in franchise development is a reflection of the brand’s aggressive growth strategy and is fueled by the ongoing success Donatos has experienced over the past several years. This success coupled with our brand refresh, which includes a new design, has continued to attract franchise operators interested in joining the growing brand,” says Donato’s Vice President of Development & Franchising, Jeff Baldwin. “We are fully confident that Floridians across the state will be thrilled to welcome Donatos’ delicious ‘Edge-to-Edge’ toppings pizza to their communities.”

The three franchise agreements were signed with new partners who join Donatos with diverse backgrounds ranging from a marketing/sales executive and a former academic designer with McGraw-Hill to an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic-Jacksonville and a long-time district manager of numerous Donatos restaurants in Indiana and Ohio.

Buckeye Pizza LLC is committed to opening three restaurants in the Jacksonville area, the first of which is slated to open in Spring 2020 in Jacksonville Beach. Though exact addresses have yet to be announced for the other two locations, the area east of the Saint Johns River in Duval County is being targeted for prospective sites.

Quick Family & Associates Holding Company, Inc. is committed to opening five restaurants in the Orlando area. No leases have been signed yet, but the group has already identified Altamonte Springs, Casselberry, Oviedo and Winter Park as potential location sites.

Legazza, LLC is committed to opening five restaurants throughout Manatee and Sarasota Counties along Florida’s Gulf Coast.

“With these three groups, we have the opportunity to bring Donatos to previously untouched markets in Florida,” says Baldwin. “We couldn’t be happier to welcome these three stellar franchisee groups to the Donatos family and bring our commitment to quality, freshness and value to Florida.”

Donatos was founded in 1963 when Ohio State sophomore Jim Grote bought a small pizza shop in Columbus, Ohio from a young seminarian for $1,300. The company was classified “Best in Class” and acquired by McDonald’s Corporation in 1999, at a time when the fast-food giant was extending its reach beyond burgers. A few years later when McDonald’s was looking to get out of the pizza business, Grote and his daughter, Jane Abell, bought back the company in 2003.

Today, Donatos’ famous golden crispy thin crust pizzas – made with smoked provolone (not mozzarella) and Edge to Edge toppings – have made the family-owned company a favorite in Ohio and beyond. Pizzas come in four sizes – 7”, 10”, 12” and 14” – and a variety of combinations. Customers can order the pizza that put Donatos on the map – a large pepperoni pizza with 100 pieces of pepperoni on it – or one of more than 10 signature pizzas on the menu that include the Founder’s Favorite (pepperoni, family-recipe sausage, ham and banana peppers) and the Chicken Spinach Mozzarella (sliced chicken breast, fresh baby spinach, fresh Mozzarella cheese, Roma tomatoes, roasted garlic, olive oil and Romano Parmesan blend).