Rank no.479 – LaRosa’s Inc. – US
Products & Services: Pizza & Italian food
Number of Locations: 64
Total Investment: $1.08M – 1.09M
Began Franchising: 1967
About LaRosa’s Inc.
Buddy LaRosa was inspired to open his first pizzeria after the pizzas he made for a church fundraiser using his Aunt Dena’s recipe turned out to be a hit. With $400 and a couple of partners, he opened Papa Gino’s in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1954. After his partners left the business a few years in, he changed the name of the pizzeria to LaRosa’s. In 1967, he began franchising.
Where Seeking Franchisees: Franchisor is seeking new franchise units in the following states:
Indiana, Kentucky, Midwest, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South, Southeast, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia.
Startup Costs, Ongoing Fees and Financing
Total Investment: $1,075,700 – $1,087,500
Franchise Fee: $20,000
Ongoing Royalty Fee: 4%
Term of Franchise Agreement: 10 years, renewable
Liquid Cash Available: $200,000
Franchise Ranking History
Franchise 500®: #479 (2013), #483 (2012),
A 50 Year Tradition with Humble Beginnings
In 1954, when Buddy LaRosa opened his first neighborhood pizzeria on Cincinnati’s West Side, his Sicilian-born father told him he was crazy. “You gonna sell pizza? ‘Med-i-gans never gonna buy pizza from you," he said. Who could argue with him? After all, in 1954 many Americans had never even heard of pizza.
As sons will do, Buddy went ahead with his plan anyway. So began the story of LaRosa’s Pizzerias. And it’s a bona fide, star spangled Great American Success Story.
The Start of Something Good
Sometimes, inspiration comes from the least likely situations. For Buddy, it was the annual summer festival at his family’s San Antonio Italian Catholic Church. As a fundraiser, he made some pizzas using his Aunt Dena’s recipe to sell at the festival. They were a huge hit.
This success gave him an idea. He scraped together $400 and, with a couple of partners and his Aunt Dena’s pizza recipe, opened “Papa Gino’s"- his first pizzeria. It gained a fast following among high school kids and families from the growing western Cincinnati suburbs, who made the place a favorite hang out. Within the first few years, Buddy’s partners left the business, and he re-named it LaRosa’s.
In the following decades, Buddy grew his business by franchising to people he knew and trusted. His first franchise owner, Ed Eilers, knew LaRosa’s because he supplied the company’s hoagy buns. Eilers noticed how often he was making deliveries, and recognized a good thing when he saw it. In time, LaRosa’s Pizzerias grew to serve dozens of neighborhoods throughout Cincinnati, Dayton, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana.
Entrepreneurial Spirit Drives Innovation
The same entrepreneurial verve that drove Buddy continued to drive LaRosa’s. In the early 80’s, LaRosa’s began delivery service. But, unlike other pizza competitors, LaRosa’s delivers virtually everything on its menu…which now includes over 40 items.
Always a leader with its dining rooms, in 1991 LaRosa’s led again by launching its “One Number" innovation to build its business off-premises. Customers anywhere in LaRosa’s service area can call 513-347-1111 (or 877-347-1111 outside of Greater Cincinnati) for pick up or delivery. Calls go into the One Number Guest service center, instead of a busy, noisy kitchen. Customer service representatives focus on taking Guest orders quickly and correctly.
And, since 2003, Guests anywhere in LaRosa’s entire service area can order online for pick up and delivery- at their own pace, and with a chance to peruse and choose from the entire menu.
Dad Was Wrong!
Half a century after serving its first Guest, LaRosa’s is the number one pizza in Cincinnati, and has begun to expand its reputation regionally. “Dad’s not around anymore," Buddy says. “But if he was, I’d tell him ‘Hey Dad, look at us now!"