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April 22, 2021 | Logan Moore | Original Article

Donatos Pizza, an Ohio-based pizza chain, said Tuesday it plans to expand into other parts of Florida and the First Coast, a move that comes after the company has seen an increased demand.

The company signed multiple-store development agreements for Jacksonville, Orlando, the Tampa/St. Petersburg area and other spots around the state with multiple franchise groups, according to a news release.

“We have our Beach location (at 1500 Beach Blvd. unit 311), but we are really looking to expand into other areas,” Jeff Baldwin, vice president of development and franchising for Donatos, told the Business Journal Thursday.

Baldwin said he’s aware of the hiring challenges in the restaurant industry and said the majority of Donatos employees are young, part-time workers. He said the company is trying to hone in on what those workers want and need.

Baldwin said the market trend is that younger workers demand to feel “needed” and challenged in their work environments. Fostering that sentiment, he added, is the key to success.

The Donatos growth strategy includes expanding the brand in all regions of the state, including down the Atlantic coast in communities such as St. Augustine, Daytona Beach and South Florida, according to the same release. The brand is also looking for partners interested in bringing locations to Gainesville.

The franchise fee is $30,000, and the initial investment to own and operate a Donatos restaurant ranges from $360,360 to $697,400. The average store is 1,700-2,200 square feet and employs roughly 30 primarily part-time people. The average volume nationwide, per store, exceeds $1.14 million.