Thursday, April 24, 2008

Straw Hat Do-Gooders

When they're not busy serving up heart-healthy  pizzas, it turns out Straw Hat owners are on the frontlines of their communities figuring out how to give to those in need.

Recently, Olga Sehhat, owner of Straw Hat Pizza in Rancho Cordova, CA, played an integral role in an outpouring of generosity from the community towards a Folsom boy recovering from aplastic anemia, a life-threatening blood disorder that is a rare form of leukemia.

The story made headlines when Brandon Burkey's Make-A-Wish gift, a big-screen TV, was stolen from his bedroom. And thanks to do-gooders like Olga, Burkey is smiling these days. A group of Northern California Best Buy owners rallied and installed and mounted a new 42-inch Samsung TV for Brandon. Girl Scout and Brownie troops replaced his X-Box and X-Box games, and Olga, all but guaranteed Burkey's possessions are safe from now on when she purchased a state-of-the-art security system for the Burkey household.

It's always inspiring to read about ordinary people connecting to help each other.

Love to hear more Straw Hat stories. Please send them my way at:
marybethsammons@aol.com

Monday, April 21, 2008

Straw Hat Pizza Serves up a New Twist to Traditional PR Campaigns with a Cutting-edge Approach to Social Media

New Chief Blogger to Strengthen Straw Hat’s online reputation

Good news, Internet savvy pizza lovers. Straw Hat is serving up a fresh heaping of PR with Internet goodness. And what’s the new item on the menu? Why it’s this: Straw Hat has named Mary Beth Sammons as the company’s first Chief Blogger.

A mom of three teens who were weaned on pizza, Sammons will provide oversight and creative guidance for Straw Hat’s blog, becoming the eyes and ears for everything exciting and inspiring happening inside the Straw Hat community and in the world of pizza.

The blog is being launched in an effort to boost the company’s social media presence and to keep pizzeria owners and customers in the know to what is going on. As the chief blog writer, Sammons will listen to customer feedback and share ideas and tips related to Straw Hat’s new locations, customers, new recipe items and news about its employees and customers. The blog is designed to show how Straw Hat is making a difference on the landscape of the pizza industry and in the lives of the people in the communities where the cooperative is rapidly expanding.

"We’re committed to growing Straw Hat and staying on the cutting-edge of what it takes to get the buzz going about our dynamite cooperative," said Jonathan Fornaci, president of The Straw Hat Pizza Cooperative. "We want to bring the stories that matters to our communities and the news media with an authentic voice and look at the important goings on."

"I am really excited to take this job on because blogging is something I'm obsessed with," said Mary Beth. "Like so many people, I am a nut about pizza. It’s great that Straw Hat is active in the blogosphere – it gives us a chance to get our message out there and to hear what people have to say to us in return. I also know that families and communities need trusted gathering places like Straw Hat. It’s an honor to be able to surface the stories that make it so special and unique."

About Mary Beth

Meet Mary Beth. She's a busy member of the "Sandwich Generation," caring for her three children and parents, and a successful career woman trying to juggle it all with grace and gusto. To thrive and survive – like so many parents, Mary Beth relies on pizza-to-the-rescue for her family on the go. In this blog, Mary Beth will serve as Straw Hat Pizza’s eyes and ears online, listening to customer feedback and sharing ideas and tips related to Straw Hat pizzerias. Plus, she’ll surface the compelling stories from the frontlines.

To contact Mary Beth, write to her at marybethsammons@aol.com.

For more information please visit: strawhatpizza.com/contactus and please follow us on Facebook & Twitter @StrawHatPizza.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Straw Hat to Expand Pizza Chain, Launch Straw Hat Grills Brand

Chain’s First Straw Hat Grill to Open in Barstow, CA with Grand Opening Wednesday, April 16, 2008

As part of its rapid growth initiative, Straw Hat Pizza is debuting its new-concept restaurant, called Straw Hat Grill, in Barstow with a grand-opening celebration Wednesday, April 16, 2008. Once touted as California’s largest pizza chain, Straw Hat is aggressively ramping up again, planning to more than double in size, increasing its Straw Hat Pizza and Straw Hat Express locations to 100, from 45 by 2011.

The new-concept, 5,500-square-foot eatery is substantially larger than the average Straw Hat Pizza location at 4,000 square feet. But it will largely retain the same emphasis on family and a community gathering spot for great food.

"The Straw Hat Grill will cater to both the local community and traveling families and business travelers," said Jonathan Fornaci, the new president of Straw Hat Cooperative Corp. of San Ramon, who was brought on board in January to encourage rapid growth. He said the new restaurant, which he compared to Chili's Grill and Bar or T.G.I. Friday's, will feature typical sit down-eatery fare such as pasta, steak, ribs, burgers and pizza. Fornaci said Barstow was chosen as the initial location because it is the halfway point in the busy travel corridor between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, it sits at the junction of busy Interstates 15 and 40, and the town of Barstow is a family oriented community. Families and business travelers are looking for a restaurant with great quality food in a wholesome, fun environment.

Located just a half-mile from his existing, Straw Hat Pizza location at 1930 E Main St., this is Jeff Eason, and his wife, Linda’s, second Straw Hat operation in Barstow. Adjacent to the Ramada Inn at 1505 E. Main St. the Grill is designed to bring a more upscale eatery to Barstow’s restaurant offerings. In addition to table-service dining, a full bar, and room service for guests at the adjacent hotel, the Grill expands the Straw Hat menu to include more ribs, steaks and pastas in addition to the signature pizza.

"We want customers to walk in and say WOW," says Eason, who has completely renovated the restaurant and added many upgrades to the existing building.

The company is also negotiating to open a Straw Hat Grill in Fremont later this quarter, one of 10 eventual locations, according to Fornaci.

Straw Hat Grills will be located exclusively on the West Coast, as will the 55 or so new Straw Hat Pizza and Straw Hat Express locations. Fornaci said the company is negotiating for it’s first-ever restaurant in Oregon and is also scouting sites in Washington and British Columbia, as well as in its existing strongholds of California and Nevada.

About Straw Hat Pizza Cooperative Corporation

The Straw Hat Cooperative Corporation is unique in that every restaurant owner is a shareholder in the cooperation, building equity from the first day of investment. Each restaurant represents one share of ownership. Members pay royalties – estimated to be one-third less than a typical franchise - to the cooperative and in return, receive marketing materials, better deals with suppliers, and ingredients and packaging manufactured by the cooperative.

Each owner also has a real say in Straw Hat’s future, which is gaining widespread attention in the industry. The Cooperative recently was named as one of America’s Hottest Franchises for 2008 and awarded the prestigious seal of Fair Franchising by the American Association Franchisees & Dealers (AAFD).

The company operates on a business model that is a cross between franchising and a traditional partnership. The core restaurants are run by cooperative owners who become shareholders in the cooperative after paying a fee of $25,000. Individual store owners are able to vote on company matters, including selecting the five-member board of directors, and share in company profits, which are distributed at the end of the fiscal year.

Today, Straw Hat Pizza is about to celebrate its 50th birthday and the chain is prepared to rapidly move in the other direction. The Straw Hat Cooperative Corp. of San Ramon plans to more than double in size, increasing its locations from to 100 from 50 by 2011, and expand from California and Nevada to Oregon.

For more information please visit: strawhatpizza.com/contactus and please follow us on Facebook & Twitter @StrawHatPizza.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Straw Hat Pizza appoints new President

Jonathan C. Fornaci has been named president of Straw Hat Cooperative Corp., which oversees Straw Hat Pizza and Straw Hat Grill operations in the United States and Canada.

Previously, Fornaci was the founder of IMG Universal, a real-estate development, retail and mortgage broker company headquartered in Walnut Creek, Calif. He co-founded Atomic Tangerine and was chief operations officer for several San Francisco-area companies including Provato, an enterprise software-development company, and IBIS Consulting Inc. Fornaci also served as chief technology and information officer for GE Capital/Genstar, where he managed technology and operations for 10 GE Capital divisions.

As Straw Hat’s president, Fornaci’s mission is to grow same-store sales and expand the number of Straw Hat Pizza and Straw Hat Grill locations throughout the United States and Canada.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

From globeinvestor.com.

Business Wire -- Straw Hat Pizza was named one of the "hottest franchises" when America's Hottest Franchises (AHF), a show celebrating the best and brightest franchise opportunities presented its inaugural awards on its pilot show.

"Winners of the coveted award came from a wide range of industries, but all met and exceeded the selection criteria set out by the AHF review board," said the show's host Dara Lopata. "Nominees for this award were judged on a myriad of criteria including, but not limited to marketing programs, responsiveness during the investigation process, financing assistance and growth potential."

Having made the debut roster of recipients, Straw Hat will lead the pack of award winners who will be honored each month and featured on the America's Hottest Franchise Web site (www.americashottestfranchises.org). DVD copies of the show can be sent to potential franchise owners.

"Straw Hat is in major growth mode," says Jonathan Fornaci, recently-appointed president of Straw Hat Cooperative Corporation who said he was brought on board in January to forge rapid growth. He added that the company plans to more than double in size, increasing its Straw Hat Pizza and Straw Hat Express locations from 45 to 100 by 2011. It also will debut a new-concept restaurant, called Straw Hat Grill, in April in the Southern California town of Barstow.

Straw Hat Pizza is a traditional family restaurant focusing on pizza, oven-baked sandwiches and a fresh salad bar. Being a cooperative corporation means that franchisees are part owners of the entire corporation. The Straw Hat Cooperative offers a growing and proven system, with easily implemented procedures, and arguably the best pizza anywhere.

The America's Hottest Franchises show is available to view on the show's website www.americashottestfranchises.org.

About America's Hottest Franchises

America's Hottest Franchises realizes that prospective business investors face an endless sea of information from the many franchise opportunities. Attending tradeshows brings a flood of voice mails, direct mail pieces and e-mails. With all the dollars spent on marketing it can sometimes be difficult to figure out which franchises offer the best opportunities for success, and which ones simply have huge marketing budgets. The organization provides an independent analysis of franchise opportunities for potential franchise buyers to help them cut through the clutter.

About Straw Hat Pizza Cooperative Corporation

The Straw Hat Cooperative Corporation is unique in that every restaurant owner is a shareholder in the cooperation, building equity from the first day of investment. Each restaurant represents one share of ownership. Members pay royalties - estimated to be one-third less than a typical franchise - to the cooperative and in return, receive marketing materials, better deals with suppliers, and ingredients and packaging manufactured by the cooperative.

Each owner also has a real say in Straw Hat's future, which is gaining widespread attention in the industry. The Cooperative recently was named as one of America's Hottest Franchises for 2008 and awarded the prestigious seal of Fair Franchising by the American Association Franchisees & Dealers (AAFD).

The company operates on a business model that is a cross between franchising and a traditional partnership. The core restaurants are run by cooperative owners who become shareholders in the cooperative after paying a fee of $25,000. Individual store owners are able to vote on company matters, including selecting the five-member board of directors, and share in company profits, which are distributed at the end of the fiscal year

Today, Straw Hat Pizza is about to celebrate its 50th birthday and the chain is prepared to rapidly move in the other direction. The Straw Hat Cooperative Corp. of San Ramon plans to more than double in size, increasing its locations from to 100 from 50 by 2011, and expand from California and Nevada to Oregon. The chain recently debuted a new-concept restaurant, called Straw Hat Grill, in the Southern California desert town of Barstow. The 5,500-square-foot eatery is substantially larger than existing 4,000-square-foot eateries an in addition to the signature pizza expand the menu offerings.

Founded in 1959, Straw Hat Pizza is the originator of "Genuine California Pizza," comprised of numerous locations in the Western U.S. and is poised for rapid growth in the U.S. and Canada during 2008. For more, go to www.strawhatpizza.com.

© Business Wire

For more information please visit: strawhatpizza.com/contactus and please follow us on Facebook & Twitter @StrawHatPizza.

Straw Hat Pizza Awarded

Straw Hat Pizza was named one of the "hottest franchises" when America’s Hottest Franchises (AHF), a show celebrating the best and brightest franchise opportunities presented its inaugural awards on its pilot show.

"Winners of the coveted award came from a wide range of industries, but all met and exceeded the selection criteria set out by the AHF review board," said the show’s host Dara Lopata. "Nominees for this award were judged on a myriad of criteria including, but not limited to marketing programs, responsiveness during the investigation process, financing assistance and growth potential."

Having made the debut roster of recipients, Straw Hat will lead the pack of award winners who will be honored each month and featured on the America’s Hottest Franchise Web site (www.americashottestfranchises.org). DVD copies of the show can be sent to potential franchise owners.

"Straw Hat is in major growth mode," says Jonathan Fornaci, recently-appointed president of Straw Hat Cooperative Corporation who said he was brought on board in January to forge rapid growth. He added that the company plans to more than double in size, increasing its Straw Hat Pizza and Straw Hat Express locations from 45 to 100 by 2011. It also will debut a new-concept restaurant, called Straw Hat Grill, in April in the Southern California town of Barstow.

Straw Hat Pizza is a traditional family restaurant focusing on pizza, oven-baked sandwiches and a fresh salad bar. Being a cooperative corporation means that franchisees are part owners of the entire corporation. The Straw Hat Cooperative offers a growing and proven system, with easily implemented procedures, and arguably the best pizza anywhere.

About America’s Hottest Franchises

America’s Hottest Franchises realizes that prospective business investors face an endless sea of information from the many franchise opportunities. Attending tradeshows brings a flood of voice mails, direct mail pieces and e-mails. With all the dollars spent on marketing it can sometimes be difficult to figure out which franchises offer the best opportunities for success, and which ones simply have huge marketing budgets. The organization provides an independent analysis of franchise opportunities for potential franchise buyers to help them cut through the clutter.

About Straw Hat Pizza Cooperative Corporation

The Straw Hat Cooperative Corporation is unique in that every restaurant owner is a shareholder in the cooperation, building equity from the first day of investment. Each restaurant represents one share of ownership. Members pay royalties – estimated to be one-third less than a typical franchise - to the cooperative and in return, receive marketing materials, better deals with suppliers, and ingredients and packaging manufactured by the cooperative.

Each owner also has a real say in Straw Hat’s future, which is gaining widespread attention in the industry. The Cooperative recently was named as one of America’s Hottest Franchises for 2008 and awarded the prestigious seal of Fair Franchising by the American Association Franchisees & Dealers (AAFD).

The company operates on a business model that is a cross between franchising and a traditional partnership. The core restaurants are run by cooperative owners who become shareholders in the cooperative after paying a fee of $25,000. Individual store owners are able to vote on company matters, including selecting the five-member board of directors, and share in company profits, which are distributed at the end of the fiscal year.

Today, Straw Hat Pizza is about to celebrate its 50th birthday and the chain is prepared to rapidly move in the other direction. The Straw Hat Cooperative Corp. of San Ramon plans to more than double in size, increasing its locations from to 100 from 50 by 2011, and expand from California and Nevada to Oregon. The chain recently debuted a new-concept restaurant, called Straw Hat Grill, in the Southern California desert town of Barstow. The 5,500-square-foot eatery is substantially larger than existing 4,000-square-foot eateries an in addition to the signature pizza expand the menu offerings.

President Jonathan Fornaci discusses The Straw Hat Pizza franchise opportunity.


Founded in 1959, Straw Hat Pizza is the originator of "Genuine California Pizza," comprised of numerous locations in the Western U.S. and is poised for rapid growth in the U.S. and Canada during 2008. For more, go to www.strawhatpizza.com.

For more information please visit: strawhatpizza.com/contactus and please follow us on Facebook & Twitter @StrawHatPizza.