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Indian Land’s newest pizzeria is already attracting a steady stream of customers.
Donatos Pizza, located at 9931 Charlotte Highway, opened its doors Oct. 27 for a grand opening bash and has been serving up piping hot pizzas ever since.
Donatos, as a franchise partner, Siler Chapman said business at the newly opened pizza parlor has been impressive.
“It’s going fantastic,” Chapman said. “It’s all been really, really good.”
The restaurant celebrated its grand opening with clowns, facepainting, balloons and pizza-tossing, and managed to draw a large crowd despite rainy weather.
“It rained on us a bit,” he said. “But overall it turned out great and the customers were fantastic.”
Opening the Indian Land store during the week of Halloween was hectic, though Chapman said the staff has now figured out how to handle the large crowds of customers that have been stopping by.
“There has been a learning curve with this because we did get hit so hard (the first week),” he said. “But now we’re moving forward and we’ve been getting really good reviews.”
Joining Chapman for the celebration were Donatos Pizza partners Joe Drury and Glenn Gulledge. Drury is a major partner or developer for several Charlotte Donatos locations, and last year signed a deal with the company to open 200 Donatos stores in the Carolinas within the next 10 years.
Chapman considers Drury his mentor and credits him with the idea for changing his restaurants into Donatos franchises. The two partnered up a few years ago to transition Chapman’s brand of restaurants, Si’s Pizzerias, into Donatos locations.
“The product is totally different now and it’s so much for the better,” Chapman said. “We’ve made the customer service better, everything is way more efficient and you get more value.”
Chapman’s love for pizza began while working at a friend’s pizzeria at 12 years old. Within a few years he began throwing pizzas. By 18, he was turning heads in the pizza industry when, along with his mother Lee, he opened his own Indian Land pizzeria in 2002, called Ice Cream and Pizza Works.
Not too long after, he was featured on the cover of Pizza Marketing Quarterly, a nationwide trade magazine for the pizza industry. In 2006, he expanded his pizza brand by changing the name of his restaurant to Si’s Pizzeria.
He is also a three-time world champion pizza-tossing acrobat, and his skills have been featured on the Food Network, CNN and the “Ellen Degeneres Show.”
Now 26, Chapman owns Donatos franchises in several locations, including Indian Trail and Pineville in North Carolina, as well as stores in Rock Hill and Tega Cay.
His agreement with Donatos says he will open a total of 20 stores within 10 years.
This is the third year of the agreement.
“We’ve got five already, so we have 15 more to go,” he said. “But we’re going to slow down for a bit and focus on the service at our existing stores right now.”
About Donatos Pizza
In 1963, Jim Grote opened the first Donatos store in Columbus, Ohio, with just $1,300.
Today there are more than 200 locations in six states, including North and South Carolina.
The company operates most of the stores, with the rest operated by Donatos’ franchise partners. Donatos is known for several specialties, including the Edge to Edge pizza, which is completely covered in toppings.
Other culinary items include Donatos’ No Dough pizzas, oven-baked subs, garlic bread, buffalo wings, salads and strombolis. Now in its 46th year, Donatos is still family-owned and operated by the Grote family, and its original location in Columbus is still one of the company’s busiest locations.