Chef Anthony Russo, the creative culinary mind, founder and CEO of chef-driven concepts Russo’s New York Pizzeria and Russo’s Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen, announced today a series of large-scale international franchise advancements for his brands.
The globally-acclaimed chef and entrepreneur has firmed up franchise agreements to add more than 10 Middle East locations, including new restaurants in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait. The growth will bring the first Russo’s Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen to the Middle East, in Dubai. Moreover, Russo’s released today that it plans to continue its Middle East franchise growth, eyeing Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan and Turkey for expansion.
“I am so proud of the way we are progressing in the Middle East,” said Russo, who has spent nearly a decade leading both Russo’s Restaurants brands through strategic international growth. “This marks a special moment for us because it shows just how strongly our fans feel about us in the Middle East. These deals will more than double our current presence in the region.”
Spotlighting the excitement surrounding Russo’s is its first Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen. The Russo’s UAE franchisee group, Prime Hospitality, which already owns and operates six locations in the UAE, will open the concept later this year at The Point in Dubai Marina, an enviable waterside development. The Russo’s location will serve its signature coal-fired pizzas and authentic Italian pastas, along with fresh local seafood and prime USDA steaks. Prime has also finalized plans to add eight additional locations in the UAE during the next three years.
Plus, Russo’s has finalized an agreement to franchise each of its brands in Kuwait. The Kuwaiti franchise partners will be opening four units total – three New York Pizzerias and one Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen. Beyond Kuwait, this development group plans to also open locations in Egypt and Lebanon in the near future.
"In addition to connecting very well with our loyal and growing customer base, we have continued to outperform our sales projections each year. Russo’s Restaurants is generating sales increases systemwide of more than 20 percent compared to last year,” added Russo. “Remarkably, this year we’re dramatically outpacing the pizza segment and the overall restaurant industry. The numbers are outstanding, and our model is to thank.”
Tapping into the brand’s momentum, Saudi Arabia’s Hospitality & Catering Company will soon open the first Russo’s New York Pizzeria in the country. Opening in Riyadh, the restaurant features the work of well-known Parisian architect Joseph Karam. Globally recognized as an architectural visionary, Karam and his team of designers have created an upscale pizzeria blending Italian authenticity with modern design. Karam’s creativity has resulted in a unique environment mixing comfort and luxury.
The new Riyadh restaurant’s customized menu includes all of the Russo’s signature pizzas and dishes, plus a collection of dishes created specially for this location, including: Saffron Risotto, Black Truffle Gnocchi and fresh local fish.
Chef Russo’s creativity and commitment to expanding his menu to meet growing consumer demands, and to strengthen the depth and breadth of his authentically Italian selections, continues to strengthen the brands. He clearly demonstrates and reflects the growing trend among diners for chef-driven concepts with authentic recipes and chef-inspired culinary cuisine.
The family-centered restaurants surround diners with warm, inviting décor to enjoy heart-healthy menu items made fresh without preservatives, additives or trans fats. Beyond the brands’ specialty pizzas, menu items include fresh salads, soups and made-from-scratch sauces and pastas. Authentic Italian cannoli, fresh-baked, Italian flatbread sandwiches and, of course, hand-tossed pizzas are just some of the distinctive craveable items on the menu.