MEDINA, Ohio – (December 4, 2020)
The pizza business in South Texas is about to get more competitive now that state Rep. Eddie Lucio III is putting a new player on the field.
Lucio, a Brownsville native who has served the state’s 38th district since 2007, with investors has purchased the Romeo’s Pizza franchise rights for the Austin and Rio Grande Valley markets. Lucio is already a franchisee for Orangetheory Fitness, with locations in Brownsville and Harlingen, but says pizza and healthy living aren’t necessarily at odds.
“I care very much about health and wellness, but I also have a family,” he said. “We also have fun. We have our nights where we’ve had a good balanced diet all week and we want to order in a watch a movie, gather as a family. We think pizza brings people together and it creates smiles for those around the dinner table. With that hard work you put in … you should be able to treat yourself and have a pizza with your family.”
Romeo’s Pizza, founded in Medina, Ohio, in 2001, has 44 locations including 39 in Ohio, but plans to launch 60 new franchise locations by the end of next year, with the goal of 250 total locations within five years. In addition to Austin, Lucio’s franchise firm, Regulus LLC, is planning four locations in the Valley and four in Dallas in 2021, Lucio said. There are also negotiations underway for the Houston market, where four more locations would be built next year, he said.
“They’ve been featured on the Food Network,” Lucio said. “They became known as an award-winning, gourmet pizza brand, and they didn’t really mature as a business until 2016 when the now CEO bought the company.”
Then began construction of a franchisable business model based on Romeo’s award-winning product, resulting in a company now poised for rapid growth blitz, recognized by Entrepreneur magazine as a Top Food Franchise and ranked by Pizza Today among the nation’s Top 100 Pizza Companies.
“They wanted to make sure that what the franchisees were buying was a great business that they could scale and grow,” Lucio said. “That’s what they’ve delivered the last four years, especially the last two years, and even post-COVID has shown not only tremendous resiliency but they’ve actually continued to grow, which is what attracted us.”
The fitness industry has taken a severe beating during the pandemic, he said.
“We lost over half our members overnight and opened up with less than half our members in May when we were allowed to reopen, and we’re slowly building back,” Lucio said. “We’re slowly trying to make sure we’re profitable again and continue to maintain operations. When we were presented with this brand (Romeo’s) we knew that it was a great opportunity to diversify and hopefully protect ourselves against any future recessions or pandemics or anything.”
The company’s business model has always been based on carry-out and delivery only, he said, adding that Brownsville will get a Romeo’s “without question,” though the timing depends on the company’s development schedule and how the investors want to proceed.
“Yes, we plan on coming to the Valley,” Lucio said. “We think the Valley’s a great market, and hopefully we’ll be here within the next 24 months.”
Noting that “good things come out of Ohio, like my man LeBron James,” Lucio said he’s looking forward to bringing the Romeo’s concept to the Lone Star State.
“The franchisor has been just really fantastic to work with,” he said. “They want to create pizza that they believe our local markets will embrace — brisket, barbecue, Texas-flavored pizzas, maybe pizzas with a Mexican food type of food profile. I’m excited about experimenting with those things at the test kitchen at Romeo’s headquarters.”
About Romeo’s Pizza
Founded in 2001 in Medina, Ohio, Romeo’s Pizza is an award-winning, food-first, pizza community. With 44 open locations and counting, the growing international franchise delivers handcrafted excellence through our local pizza champions.
Romeo’s Pizza delivers purpose-driven, handcrafted excellence through our team of local pizza champions. We believe pizza is always the answer. We deliver sweet smiles, one slice at a time. We will positively impact our communities and environment through our Pizza with a Purpose initiative. This initiative supports local, national and worldwide organizations that believe in making a positive impact on people and our planet.
Learn more about Romeo’s Pizza at https://www.romeospizza.com/.
To learn more about Romeo’s Pizza franchising opportunities, visit https://romeospizzafranchise.com/.
Steve Clark – The Brownsville Herald
Romeo’s Pizza Franchise, LLC
Chief Brand Officer