Chris Britt and Ed St. Geme became principal owners and co-CEOs of Mountain Mike’s Pizza in 2017. By the end of 2018 (year of the California-based brand’s 40th anniversary), new restaurants were already opening twice as fast as before. Mountain Mike’s now has locations operating or developing in eight states, with more soon to come: the total number of restaurants is scheduled to reach 250 by the end of 2021.
While 2020–2021 has hurt many industries, the quick-service pizza business—with its affordable, popular and easy-to-bring-home products—is considered virtually recession-proof and pandemic-proof. Mountain Mike’s already had experience surviving and thriving during challenging times when Britt and St. Geme acquired it, and sales have continued to grow throughout 2020 and 2021 with the help of improved takeout and delivery, plus new innovations in digital services.
Here’s what Britt and St. Geme have to say about the brand’s recent and future success.
On the impact of COVID-19 and extended closures of in-person dining options: “When you have 25 percent of your business as dine-in and you lose it, you don’t really know exactly what’s going to happen, [but] what we saw was just a tremendous embracing of our pizza. … We’ve endeavored [since first acquiring Mountain Mike’s] to increase our brand’s visibility, [and] despite the challenges the entire restaurant industry experienced in 2020, it’s rewarding to see that our strong performance has propelled us to much greater heights.”
On introducing third-party delivery: Many franchisees initially “were stiff-arming that whole thing. They didn’t want anything to do with DoorDash, GrubHub, Postmates” because they thought employing their own delivery drivers saved money. “But we showed them the analytics and did test pilots to show it was truly incremental” and generated “substantially higher” same-store sales. “DoorDash has its own set of customers. Uber Eats has its own set of customers. If you’re not making your product available on those platforms, you don’t have access to those customers a lot of times.”
On recent record sales (total sales passed $200M in 2020 and are projected to pass $250M for 2021): “What’s driving that is all of these levers that we put in place to support our fabulous franchisees. It starts with just making the product more accessible.” The brand is “firing on all cylinders … our top tier sales performance and marketplace buzz are proof positive that Mountain Mike’s is catapulting itself to the forefront of America’s love for ‘Pizza the Way It Oughta Be.’ … We are extremely pleased to see that the momentum Mountain Mike’s Pizza experienced during our record-setting 2020 has carried over into … 2021, and we are excited for what’s ahead … records are surely made to be broken.”
On franchise opportunities with Mountain Mike’s: “Mountain Mike’s is [now] truly national in opportunity.” Relationships are key: “Our job is to support our franchisees and provide really great opportunities for new folks to come into the system. If they’ve got … the personability, the interest in getting out in the community, that passion for guest service, those are some of the most important attributes.”
Chris Britt and Ed St. Geme are southern California natives and longtime franchisors/private capital managers. While attending Stanford University together, they were regular customers at the original Mountain Mike’s restaurant.
Come and Grow with Mountain Mike’s
Are you an entrepreneur interested in opening a pizza restaurant? For experienced franchisees and newcomers alike, Mountain Mike’s offers a proven brand and dedicated support as you establish a presence in your community. Check our FAQ page or our “5 Steps to Becoming a Mountain Mike’s Franchise Owner” (near the bottom of any website page) to learn more.