About two years since arriving in the suburban Chicago market, Pie Five Pizza Co. is closing eight of its nine restaurants in the area. It’s another blow to the fast-casual pizza market which saw Wisconsin-based Toppers leave Chicago earlier this month. The franchised Schaumburg location is the lone survivor, while an upcoming franchised restaurant in suburban Oak Brook should still open and is unaffected by the closures, according to Crain’s. Dallas-based Pie Five, a quick-fire concept, is also leaving the metro Denver and Minneapolis markets.
The Daily Herald first reported the Chicago-area closures, but there’s also a court case that hangs over the company. Earlier this month, the newspaper reported news of a franchisee in Rolling Meadows suing Pie Five for breach of contract. Carl Dissette, one of the first Jimmy John’s franchisees, also operates the Schaumburg location—the Pie Five that will continue to be open. He claims Pie Five inflated sales figures to dupe potential franchisees, thus making the Pie Five business opportunities more attractive.
True Chicagoans—not just the Big Ten transplants that overrun the city—are notoriously fickle when it comes to frequenting pizza chains with foreign origins. But that won’t stop other companies from trying to open restaurants in the area. Though it’s not in the fast-casual sphere, just last week Florida-based Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza announced plans to open in the suburbs with designs to eventually open in the city proper. There is also ample evidence that Chicagoans can embrace out-of-town styles of pizza. But it has to be executed properly.