Famoso celebrates a decade in business with 30th location
VANCOUVER — Famoso Inc. is celebrating its 10th anniversary by opening its 30th location and expanding upon a new format for the brand.
In May of 2007, Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria opened its first location in Edmonton.
“We had a tiny restaurant with a pallet of flour in our back room,” said company co-founder Justin Lussier. “We just sort of got busier and busier as time went on.”
In February, the Vancouver-based brand opened its 30th location in Regina, in the Eastgate neighbourhood of the city. The location is the third Famoso to open in Regina in two years.
“We had a lot of success with the first Regina location, which is right downtown,” Lussier said. “We had a group want to open more locations, and we had some good real estate opportunities, so we decided to go the east end and north end of town.”
The latest location is branded Famoso Pizzeria + Bar, and features a new design that will be present in all Famoso franchised locations moving forward.
“These new restaurants have an island bar in the middle of the room with a lounge component with high seats, and a restaurant component with low seats,” Lussier explained. “It’s still a fairly small footprint at about 2,800 square feet.”
The original Famoso kitchens were equipped with a pizza oven and prep area. Under the new branding, the kitchen has expanded to include a six-burner stovetop and deep fryers. The new equipment lets Famoso expand its menu with wings, calamari, deep fried risotto balls and a pasta program.
“That’s just really added an extra dimension,” Lussier said. “We’re still in love with the pizza we do, that’s number 1, but we felt variety was important for the experience.”
To draw in a sports crowd and serve as a gathering place, the new design includes a central bar, numerous televisions and more beer taps to feature local beverages.
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“With the craft beer scene, we have rotating taps at all of our stores, we’ll get a lot of local brewers in and keep them rotating,” Lussier said. “It keeps it fun and interesting for guests and staff.”
The groundwork for Famoso was laid in Italy, while Lussier was backpacking through Europe with his wife.
“We went to Italy and obviously enjoyed eating the food there and we started trying pizzas from different cities,” he said. “In Naples, we were just blown away by how good the pizza was. We ate it everyday for a week. We realized it wasn’t something we had before.”
When he returned to Canada, Lussier began researching the Neapolitan style of pizza.
“We figured out it was something fairly new to be doing, authentic Naples-style pizza. There were only a few places doing it in North America,” he recalled.
Famoso’s fast casual approach to Neapolitan pizza began attracting interest from hopeful franchisees from across western Canada and Ontario.
“We had interest from people in opening one, so we decided to go the franchise route,” Lussier said. “We just built, built, built, every year. We were growing by double digit percentage increases every year.”
While the Famoso brand is evolving, each location is still equipped with its signature custom-tiled, bell-shaped oven imported from Italy. The company also continues to import 00 flour and tomatoes from Italy.
The 31st location will open in Kelowna, B.C., in June. With a strong presence in Saskatchewan and Alberta, Lussier would like to see growth in Ontario and British Columbia. However, he said growth is dependent on perspective franchisees.
“We don’t choose the markets before we choose who we partner with,” he said.