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That's Amore

A couple of franchisees learn that dough is a relative term for success in the pizza business.

The concept of gourmet pizza was what initially attracted Julie Kossak and Mark Weeter to ZPizza, but the first bite sealed the deal. "It's organic, it's healthy, it's fresh," says Kossak. "It's not New York pizza or Chicago pizza--it's truly a California freshness style. And that suited us." With gourmet menu items and flavor combinations indicative of dishes from places like Mexico and Morocco, this was one pizza restaurant that broke the mold for the husband-and-wife team.

Opening their doors to the Phoenix community in 2004, they soon attracted attention. In their first year, they were No. 1 in sales, and they made history as the first ZPizza franchise to out-perform any company-owned store within that same time frame. Now, with a second store open and another one in negotiations, they expect 2007 sales to exceed $1.3 million.

But their success hasn't come without effort. Kossak, 41, works full time as an attorney and takes care of the schedules, training, payroll and paperwork for the franchises, while Weeter, 50, handles the rest, putting in an average of 60 hours per week. "Mark and I went into this knowing failure was not an option," says Kossak. "We're constantly thinking of ways to improve the service, make the employees happier and find better employees, because you can't just sit back and let it float."

This story appears in the October 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »