Captain Tony’s Pizza is proof that Mexican-inspired Chipotle isn’t the only food franchise that’s dedicated to its customers, to its franchisees, or to its community.
In the 1970s, Anthony Martella opened the first Captain Tony’s as a mom-and-pop pizza parlor. In 1972, Anthony’s son, Michael, took his father’s pizza (and his grandmother’s pizza dough recipe) and turned it into a successful multi-location franchise operation. Somehow, all Captain Tony’s locations still manage to feel like your neighborhood pizzeria. For Michael Martella that’s not only important to him personally, it’s an integral part of his business model.
While Michael Martella might be the founder’s son and Captain Tony’s current CEO, he’s also a franchisee himself– he owns the Rochester, NY location of Captain Tony’s.
As a franchisee, Michael Martella knows how important it is, especially for a pizzeria like Captain Tony’s, to be a visible part of your business, for your customers to get to know you, and to be seen as a part of the local community. In fact, that’s a big part of Captain Tony’s success. The personal attention that you get at a Captain Tony’s you just don’t find anywhere else. When was the last time you walked into a pizza franchise and they remembered your name and your order? Martella sees the same customers today he saw 20 years ago as kids– albeit they’ve grown up a little bit.
It’s more than just remembering your name. Unlike most other pizza franchises, Captain Tony’s makes most everything in-house. The dough is made every day from a recipe Martella’s grandmother brought over from Italy. Bread is baked from scratch every day. When it comes to produce and other menu items, Martella encourages his franchisees to buy from local businesses, farmers, and purveyors. Again, community involvement is a big part of being a Captain Tony’s franchisee.
As the current CEO, Martella is responsible for finding, training, and supporting all of Captain Tony’s franchisees. When it comes to finding someone new, there are a few things that make his list. First of all, he’s not looking for someone who “wants to reinvent the wheel.” He’s looking for someone with business sense and sales experience who can learn the business model he’s perfected. Captain Tony’s is a brand where you “gotta work hard,” he says. Not surprisingly, the brand is doing well. “We turn more people down than we accept,” Martella says.
For those who become Captain Tony’s franchisees, there’s more than a great concept waiting– there’s great support. When you’re first starting out, Captain Tony’s helps you shop for equipment deals. (A brand new convection oven can cost upwards of $48,000.) Martella provides counseling and aid when it comes to finding an appropriate location and permits franchisees to do their own construction work if they’re qualified or they happen to know someone in the local community who can get the job done. Again, for Captain Tony’s, it’s all about the community.
Financially speaking, Captain Tony’s only requires a franchise fee of 4.5% (lower than most) that’s capped at $500 per week. So, if you’re doing particularly well in sales, that profit stays with you. Franchisees are given a complete and total marketing guide and leeway to try out their own advertising strategies, which are encouraged, they just need permission first.
At the end of the day, being a Captain Tony’s franchisee is about hard work, being involved in your community, and providing your customers with a personalized experience and a great end product. With all the experience, tools, and support that Michael Martella provides and brings to the table, Captain Tony’s is a franchise that brings together profit and perfect pizzas.