This article is brought to you by Hunt Brothers Pizza.
NASHVILLE, Tenn.—This year, Hunt Brothers Pizza is celebrating 30 years of bringing a high-quality, turnkey foodservice program to convenience stores, sports venues, campgrounds and other outlets in rural areas and communities that major food distributors don’t serve.
Developed in 1991, Hunt Brothers Pizza grew quickly and is now found in more than 8,000 outlets across 30 states, plus five other countries via U.S. military partnerships. Convenience retailers appreciate the concept, which eliminates 90% of pizza prep time and charges no franchising, advertising or marketing fees for the program. And many retail “partners,” as Hunt Brothers Pizza refers to its customers, have been with the program almost from the beginning.
Friendly Express, the Waycross, Georgia-chain owned by Gary Sellers, has sold Hunt Brothers Pizza since 1999 and currently features the program in more than half of its 35 outlets.
“The impact has been awesome both to our foodservice business as well as to the general business,” said Sellers. “Not only does the program have an impact in the category, but it drives business by creating more of a destination. And it’s the perfect complement to a full-scale hot and cold deli, because it focuses on the evening daypart.”
Hunt Brothers Pizza has played a significant role in the success of the Camo Country Store in Crowley, Louisiana. Customers drive out of their way to shop there because, as they tell owners Jade and Chris Stutes, Camo Country has the best pizza around. “We hear this all the time,” said Jade. “We make our pizza with love—and fresh meat and veggies.”
Jade praises the program to other foodservice operators. “The pizza is delicious, portable and fairly priced,” she said. “And there’s a good profit margin.”
At Manning Service Inc. in Saratoga Indiana, owner Jeff Manning has three tips for retailers considering the pizza program for their outlets. The first is to hire good employees with a positive attitude. The second is to train them well. The third is “don’t skimp on quality,” he said. “And you can’t get any better ingredients than what Hunt Brothers Pizza offers.”
Mike Gunter, owner of Gunter Oil in Birmingham, Alabama, has been a Hunt Brothers Pizza partner for 20 years and sells the pizza in 10 of his 14 convenience stores.
“Hunt Brothers’ program has proven itself over the years,” he said. “It’s simple to execute with minimal labor. We’ve removed nearly all other food options from our stores because none are as easy to manage or as profitable as Hunt Brothers Pizza.”
Twenty years ago, Lee Harrill, owner of Drop In Food Stores based in Forest City, North Carolina, wanted to sell pizza that didn’t have what he describes as a common “oregano taste.”
“A guy named Chuck came in the store. My son started talking to him, and Chuck said, ‘I work for a pizza company,’” Harrill recalled. “So, he came back in and baked us some samples. I said, ‘this is it! All-American pizza!’ If you like hamburgers and hotdogs in America, you’re going to love this pizza.”
Today, Harrill is quick to recommend Hunt Brothers Pizza to other retailers because of “the number of people it brings in,” he said. “And if you follow the recommendations for pizza toppings, you’re never going to bake a bad one.”
This is the second installment of a two-part series on turnkey pizza programs in convenience stores. Read the first installment in the September 15, 2021, edition of NACS Daily. Click here for more information about Hunt Brothers Pizza.