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Franchise watch: Grab a slice of Italian heritage with Russo’s

Franchise watch: Grab a slice of Italian heritage with Russo’s

Russo’s New York Pizzeria & Italian Kitchen invites you to join the family.

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The son of first-generation Italian immigrants, chef Anthony Russo, grew up in a New Jersey home where the kitchen was the center of family life. Cooking and baking often took place in the comfort of home, and many of the ingredients came from the family garden, just the way Grandpa and Nonna Russo used to do back in Avellino, Italy. “[My first restaurant] was 800 square feet,” says Anthony Russo. “I had a pizza oven, a dough mixer, and two tables. That’s it. I could only sit eight people.”

Using the family recipe for hand-tossed dough, sauce made from fresh-crushed California vine-ripened tomatoes, and imported Italian cheese blends, Anthony became the sole owner and chef of his first restaurant, Russo’s Pizza, in the early ’80s. A few years later, he created Anthony’s Pizzeria, located in Clear Lake, Texas, and a move to Houston allowed him to grow his small family-style restaurant concept.

For almost a decade, Anthony refined his menu using classic Italian family recipes and honed in on the perfect New York-style pizza. Meanwhile, he developed his kitchen concept to maintain a casual dining experience while having less overheads. In 1992, Russo’s New York Pizzeria & Italian Kitchen opened in downtown Houston, Texas, and proved to be a model for franchising success.


Only Russo’s has captured all four key revenue segments in the fast-casual market. Four important income streams flow together, to capture more revenue:

Delivery: Pizza delivery is part of the soon-to-be $200bn online food delivery industry. Russo’s services allow customers to call in or, increasingly, place their order online

Takeout: Approximately 20 to 45 per cent of Russo’s customers prefer takeout, making this service the most popular and profitable. It offers the same quick convenience as delivery but reduces overhead labor cost

Dine-in: Russo’s classic pizzeria and Italian kitchens allow guests to experience traditional atmospheres while enjoying fresh, made-to-order pizza, pasta, and salads

Catering: Large family events are what Italians do best. Bringing Russo’s recipes to a guest’s large or small event, whether corporate or private, allows the brand to bring a piece of its family to theirs

Italians are famously emotional about their cooking, and that feeling is what makes pizza so loved by people the world over: it’s a social food, meant to be shared and exclaimed over, with a sense of occasion. More, now than ever, home delivery sales are on the rise with an estimated $82bn in terms of gross revenue.

By having delivery already built into Russo’s restaurant concept options, each of its locations are able to remain flexible with the ever-changing requirements the food industry may go through. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, dine-in only restaurants reported record lows, while those with delivery options in the QSR industry held the top spots.

Russo’s franchises offer the full- service experience, depending on the day or guest’s needs, but our delivery and takeout concepts maximize all sales potential for every square foot of space your store has available.


Our conceptual approach is a huge factor in having a lower than average labor cost, while our fresh, from-scratch recipes keep food costs below the average as well.

All of our locations are custom designed to fit your market, giving you a competitive advantage over other pizza concepts in today’s marketplace. Your total initial investment will vary based on the number of seats, design, and square footage.

• Square footage ranges 1,500– 3,500 sqft.

• Startup costs range $395,000– $750,000 (international figures)

• Multi-unit and single-units are available • Build in malls, strip centers, lifestyle centers, and more

• Domestic or international locations (request separate information for international breakdown)


We have spent years developing a business strategy and initial investment that is one of the lowest in the comparable category within the casual dining restaurant industry.

These are estimates only. If you have any additional questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

During the qualifying phase, our team will evaluate your financial, character, and experience. Here’s a quick glance at what we’ll be looking for:

• Candidate suggested to have at least $1m in liquid capital (for international locations)

• Candidate suggested to have at least $2m in net worth (for international locations)

• Good credit standing

• A sound background in business development

• The ability to work independently within the Russo’s brand

• A good standing within the community

• Financing information available upon request


No matter the market you’re looking to break into, our team will help you grow Russo’s name all over the world. Tell us your first preference during the application phase and we’ll review the territorial boundaries with you.

“My first restaurant was 800 square feet. I had a pizza oven, a dough mixer and two tables. That’s it. I could only sit eight people”

— Anthony Russo

For more information about building internationally, please get in touch with our franchise development team. They would love to provide you with details about specific abroad markets and requirements.


We’re excited to have your passion for entrepreneurship join the Russo’s family passion of serving quality, authentic family recipes. With these few steps, you’re well on your way to becoming part of the family!

1. Apply and qualify - Fill out the confidential, non-binding application as part of the qualification process. During this time, our team will review your financial status and interview you about your previous experience and expectations of your new store.

2. Location search - Once qualified, you’ll visit the team at the corporate office to sign all documentation and discuss your requested location’s demographics, region, and marketplace.

Location specification

• 1,500sqft – 3,500sqft

• Minimum 15ft store frontage

• Minimum finished 12ft ceiling height

• In-line or end-cap

• Excellent street visibility

• Outdoor seating if available


• Average household income $60,000 and above

• Daytime population 35,000 within three-mile radius

• Residential population 50,000 to 75,000 in a three-mile radius

Location type

• Strip centers

• Lifestyle centers

• Regional power centers

• Street retail

• Campus sites near schools/colleges

3. Construction and design - We offer support on floor plan development, kitchen layout, and interior design including all furniture and fixtures. We’ll assist you during the entire journey

4. Training and development - Your comprehensive training plan will be scheduled in Houston, Texas. During this time, we will train you for six to eight weeks in front of house and back of house operations, processes, and procedures

5. Pre-opening and opening - Our operations team will be on-site to support you with all aspects of your new store opening. From delivery to kitchen set up and training your staff, we’ll be with you all the way to the grand opening

6. On-going support - Our operations and marketing teams are available for all franchisees to help support their store’s growth. In an ever-expanding world of communication, keeping up to date with the latest trends in digital and print advertising is essential. Maintaining brand awareness is at the forefront of our marketing goals. We love allowing our franchisees to market at their own pace and price point. Whether it’s reaching your audiences via email, social media, or couponing, we work with each store to be sure you’re reaching as many guests and/or potential guests as possible


Family is the cornerstone of the Italian experience. We’re happy to support its family in their endeavors and proud to share in their success.

“I really like the business concept. It generates great returns because there are multiple sources of revenue.”

- Sam Farouz, single-unit owner since 2006

“From the moment customers walk in, they know they’ve come somewhere special. They’re getting a true slice of New York.”

- Guillermo Medellin, multi-unit owner of four locations since 2010


We have confidence in our legacy of Old Country cooking and don’t need to dress it up with a lot of overpriced ‘foodie’ artifice and excess. We put our money where our mouth is, in fresh flavor and a fresh approach to the pizzeria and Italian kitchen business.

We want the passion of our new family to match our passion for food. With a hunger for innovation and inspiration of Italian traditions, the only thing missing in our recipe book is you.


• 23% average labor costs

• 21.1% average food costs

• 19.2% average net income


Established: 1992

Number of franchised outlets: 46

Location of units: U.S., Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah

Total investment: $395,000 - $750,000

Minimum required capital (international): $1m (liquid capital), $2m (net worth)

Contact: 1-855-9RUSSOS

Image: Founder Anthony Russo with giant 28” party pizza

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