Hungry Howie's, which bills itself as one of the nation's largest pizza chains and known for its flavored crusts, will open its first Colorado Springs location next month.
Franchisees Brian and Alice Schmitt will operate the restaurant at 4272 N. Academy Blvd., in a former Starbucks northwest of Academy and Austin Bluffs Parkway. They're targeting a mid- to late-May opening.
Hungry Howie's, with about 1,400 square feet, will offer carryout and delivery service, but no indoor seating.
Michigan-based Hungry Howie's dates to the early 1970s, and its founders began franchising locations in 1983. Today, it has more than 550 locations in 21 states and ranks in the top 10 of the nation's largest pizza franchises, its website says.
Brian Schmitt, a retired information technology professional, said he and his wife were looking for a post-retirement business investment. They were familiar with Hungry Howie's after visiting locations during Florida vacations.
"We like their product," he said. "Hopefully, people around here will appreciate some competition with Domino's, Little Caesars, things like that."
Hungry Howie's flavored crusts - such as butter, sesame and garlic herb - are signature menu items and available on original, thin crust, deep dish, build-your-own and specialty pies. The menu also offers subs, wings, salads, breads, rolls, desserts and soft drinks.
Despite the abundance of pizza chains and local favorites, Hungry Howie's will compete on quality, price and its delivery, Schmitt said. Pizza dough and salads are made fresh daily on site, for example.
The location near Academy and Austin Bluffs will allow the restaurant to serve homeowners, business people and shoppers in a busy area of town, he said. Hungry Howie's will operate in a free-standing building that's part of the King Soopers-anchored Marketplace at Austin Bluffs.
The restaurant will employ eight to 10 drivers, Schmitt said, in addition to 10 people working at the restaurant. He's interested in adding locations, but will wait to see how the restaurant performs.
"We're not trying to hit the whole Colorado Springs area,' Schmitt said. "We picked an area with a lot of rooftops there and also a lot of businesses there, too. We'd like to be able to grow the lunch businesses through our pizzas and subs...And also the flavored crusts. People might want to switch it up every once in a while if they're tired of Domino's or Papa John's."
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