Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, a traditional casual dining restaurant known for its delicious, handcrafted pizza, distinctive taproom fare, and vast craft beer selection, announced unprecedented growth in 2015 after reporting $254 million in system-wide revenue, up 13 percent over 2014, and an eight percent growth in the number of corporate and franchised units. Additionally, the brand signed franchise agreements in 2015, which brought new restaurants to markets that include Joplin, Missouri and Sioux City, Iowa.

"We are thrilled with the growth we saw in 2015 and are extremely optimistic that 2016 will be Old Chicago's best year yet," says Mike Mrlik, president of Old Chicago. "Our overall success is largely due in part to our incredibly hard working team of operators, franchisees and Craft Beer Guides across our locations nationwide. As we dive deeper into Old Chicago's 40th anniversary year, our sights are set on propelling the brand's growth and celebrating many more milestones in 2016."

Old Chicago also introduced its concept to six new markets last year, including Columbia, South Carolina; Katy Ranch, Texas; Pueblo, Colorado; Sioux City, Iowa; Joplin and Shoal Creek, Missouri. The brand is on track to develop more than 30 restaurants by 2018.

Franchisee Amro Samy opened Old Chicago's first locations in Garden City and Manhattan, Kansas in 2014, with a third location in development in Salina, Kansas. Samy and his business partner have plans to develop another two restaurants in market in the coming years. When considering franchise opportunities, Samy wanted a concept that delivered a consistent brand promise to his community.

"As a new Old Chicago franchisee, it was important to me to align myself with a brand that delivers a seamless customer experience, and I learned very quickly that Old Chicago does just that," Samy says. "Old Chicago not only takes care of its customers, but also provides franchisees with a network of support to help our businesses achieve success. The company's aggressive expansion efforts are a true testament to the strength of Old Chicago's business model, which is supported by nearly two decades of franchise experience. I look forward to growing with this industry leader for many years to come and urge aspiring entrepreneurs to take advantage of this exciting business opportunity."

This year, Old Chicago has plans to develop nearly a dozen new restaurants as part of its aggressive growth strategy to bring its handcrafted pizza, taproom classics, and expansive selection of regional and local craft beers to more cities across the country.

The brand is targeting growth in markets such as Dallas, Fort Worth, Tyler, and Waco, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Independence, Missouri, among others. In addition to a focus on expansion, Old Chicago is set to roll out a handful of new initiatives this year such as system-wide online ordering, new beverage offerings and the Cicerone certified training program to further enhance the guest experience. The company has already launched its new restaurant prototype—a 5,000 square feet build with an additional 1,000—1,200 square feet of outdoor patio space. The new structure and design have been well received by consumers and will be rolled out system-wide.

Casual Dining, Chain Restaurants, Industry News, NextGen Casual, Old Chicago