Mary Jane Riva has always been a hard worker. She bought her own donut shop when she was just twenty years old. While most people were out picking up hours at random part-time gigs, she was an entrepreneur.
After three years, she moved on from the donut business and worked in an office with an architectural landscaping firm and eventually became a franchisee with Pizza Factory in 1989. Mary Jane bought the founder out in 2012 and is now the franchisor for the company.
“I had five stores in the Southern California area over that time period and I was on the marketing team. The guys approached my husband and I in 2012 about buying the company. As silly as we were, we said, sure why not?” recalled Mary Jane.
Pizza Factory has been in business for over thirty years and started franchising in 1985. The company currently has 110 locations that range from 1200 square feet to 5000 square feet. Territories are located in Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona and California. Locations are being built in Oregon and the company is looking to extend into Montana and Canada.
The company remains consistent and true to the brand using the same ingredients since the beginning, with one hundred percent real mozzarella and a signature sauce.
“Our main product is pizza, we also have pastas and sandwiches, and we sell beer and wine. We still have the same concept that we have had forever. We hand toss our dough and we make everything on the premises. Our product is a little higher quality than the other pizzerias that you see out there,” explained Mary Jane.
There is a constant need for pizza in American culture. Ninety-three percent of Americans eat at least one pizza per month because it is affordable, convenient and reliable.
Pizza Factory is not a typical restaurant but the neighborhood’s hometown pizzeria. Actually, Pizza Factory is more than a pizzeria, it’s a home away from home with familiar faces where family and friends gather for an experience.
Known for tossing the dough in the air and creating a community connection, Pizza Factory is the local place that has more of a restaurant friendly feel than regular pizza joints. Pizza industries are more focused on deliveries, sometimes being small spaces with just a counter, while Pizza Factory offers an inviting place that is a community staple.
“We focus on being the hometown pizzeria and we get really involved in schools and the sports teams. The owners usually become connected with the community,” said Mary Jane. “We have a No Bully program that we take to the schools – it’s free. We participate in things to get engaged (with the community). Our demographic is mostly young families with kids and we try to stay involved with the community at that level.”
This is what truly sets Pizza Factory apart, most of the franchisees are owner-operators who become a part of their community and give back in a variety of ways. The No Bully Program focuses on schools by educating the public about the issues at hand and allows victims to be aware of their resources.
Customers can easily schedule a fundraising event with owners and managers without complication. The walls of the pizzeria are usually covered in little league jerseys and it’s the place the winning team comes to celebrate a victory.
Owner-operators are not required but passion is definitely a necessity. People who are passionate about their community and their work and enthusiastic about giving back and creating a name within their location are ideal candidates as franchisees. Owners should be hard workers who enjoy working with a team.
Franchisees are consistently supported from the moment they sign on and throughout the entire preperation. There is a training facility that is available to owners after they have opened. It is a free option, which managers can access for extra training, or franchisees can revisit for a refresher. For the core products, there is a yearly conference for the franchisees.
The company is about to introduce an educational portal through which franchisees can access information with just the click of a button. There are different categories, for example; marketing, maintenance of equipment and how-to’s.
It will be a tool that will continue to educate and more experienced owner operators while also be answering any questions that any of the franchisees have. “They don’t have to seek the information – we will provide it to them beforehand,” said Mary Jane.
For a really fresh slice of pizza and a truly memorable experience, Pizza Factory is more than a franchise, but rather a business that is part of the community.