Sbarro has seen its fair share of struggles over the last decade, but the pizza brand is making a comeback with some massive expansion plans that are already well underway.
Sbarro opened more than 100 new locations in 2022, the most openings in one year in the chain’s entire history. And the company wants to go even further this year. CEO David Karam recently told Restaurant Business Magazine that Sbarro expects to open as many as 120 new locations in 2023. That could top the 100-plus locations it opened around the world in 2022, assuming all goes to plan for the rest of the year.
If Sbarro does succeed in its ambitious goal, it would be a welcome step in the right direction for the chain as it springs back from a tough decade.
Founded in 1956 by Italian immigrants, Sbarro is best known for its New York-style slices served up in food court pizza shops. It reached a peak size of more than 1,000 locations during the 2000s. Unfortunately, it was forced to declare bankruptcy in 2011 due to a mix of factors like the recession, elevated food costs, and a drop in customer traffic at malls, where many of its pizza shops were located.
Despite these struggles, the company has been working to rebound in recent years, partially by embracing third-party delivery, Karam told Restaurant Business. It has also been opening new locations in nontraditional sites like convenience stores and travel centers where people might be more tempted to indulge in impulse pizza purchases.
These efforts seem to be paying off. Sbarro’s system sales increased by 21% last year and it just opened its 700th store in Columbus, Ga., last month.
Sbarro isn’t the only major restaurant chain with some big expansion plans on the horizon. Subway announced in June that it anticipates opening a whopping 9,000 new restaurants across the globe. Popular regional chicken tender chain Raising Cane’s also plans to open 100 new restaurants in 2023 alone.