From Pizza in a Cone to Poutine: The Marketing Power of Far-Out Food Franchises
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Pizza lovers on the hunt for a slice at New Jersey-founded franchise Kono Pizza may be in for a rude awakening. "We don't sell slices here," says co-founder David Ragosa. "We sell cones."
At the eatery, burbling mozzarella and marinara sauce are packed within golden pizza dough that's been fashioned into ice-cream cone form. Strange though it may sound, the concoction is making waves with on-the-go consumers and adventurous eaters on the hunt for the next big thing.
"It's the wow factor," Ragosa says.
Kono Pizza, a concept invented in Italy, was transplanted stateside by Ragosa and his partners in 2007. Following a debut eatery in Edison, N.J., the chain is now eyeing spinoffs across the country -- namely in California, Florida and North Carolina. "We see this being the next McDonald's," Ragosa says.
Though that may sound like a lofty vision, Ragosa was only one of many vendors at the helm of an eccentric food enterprise in attendance at the 2014 International Franchise Expo, where the nation's leading chains met with prospective entrepreneurs last month in New York City.
Ryan Smolkin, for instance, founder of the Ontario, Canada-based Smoke's Poutinerie, is aiming to bring a cult-favorite Canadian dish into storefronts across the globe.
Traditionally speaking, Poutine comprises a mixture of French fries, brown gravy and cheese curds. But Smoke's Poutinerie pushes the concept one step further by adding uber-indulgent toppings like double-smoked bacon, caramelized onion and flatiron steak.
"It's always just been a side dish at chip trucks," Smolkin says, "but we want to take that Quebec classic to the rest of the world."
And it is a dish already suited to palates across the globe, he says. "Everybody eats it all over the place, they just call it something different. They call it coney fries, they call it disco fries. It's whatever you want to load on top."
And thanks to the intrigue surrounding unique menu items as well as their shareability on social media channels, Smolkin insists that Smoke's Poutinerie -- which operates 80 locations throughout Canada -- is perfectly poised for a U.S. takeover. And then? "Global domination," Smolkin says.
"We're not just selling fries, cheese and gravy -- it's an experience," he describes of the company's 80s-themed décor and imaginary founder, Smoke. "We're an entertainment company. We're here to have fun."