Mr. Gatti's Expanding 'Eatertainment' Concept

Friday, May 06, 2005

When Colorado restaurant executive Michael Mrlik mentioned Mr. Gatti's at his previous job, someone immediately broke out into the pizza chain's jingle -- "Call 459-2222" -- even though the chain doesn't have any stores in that state. Mrlik says that's when he knew he should accept an offer from Austin-based Mr. Gatti's Pizza Inc. to become president and CEO. Mr. Gatti's wants to take a bigger bite of the "eatertainment" market through an expansion of its GattiTown/GattiLand concept in Austin and Texas as well as through growth of its franchise operations, including the hiring of a franchise development director. In Austin, the company plans to open three to five corporate-owned stores by next April, some of which will be GattiTowns. Mr. Gatti's has two of the "eatertainment" restaurants in Central Texas -- one in Round Rock and another in Southwest Austin. GattiTown and GattiLand, both the same concept, typically are housed in buildings that range between 20,000 and 30,000 square feet each. The GattiTown and GattiLand concept combines a traditional pizza restaurant with private party rooms, video arcades, carousels and other forms of entertainment, a concept the restaurant industry dubs "eatertainment." Equipping a GattiTown or GattiLand costs $2 million to $2.5 million. That price tag excludes buying the land and construction. Helping lead the GattiTown/GattiLand charge will be Mrlik, who was named president and CEO on April 28. He will assume the new jobs in mid-May. Mrlik replaces Don Brinkman, who no longer is with the company. Brinkman, the son of previous Mr. Gatti's owner L.D. Brinkman, was interim president, staying aboard to help with the transition. Mrlik most recently was chief operating officer at New World Restaurant Group Inc. in Golden, Colo., whose brands include Einstein Bros Bagels, Noah's Bagels and New World Coffee. "I joined [Mr. Gatti's] because it gave me the opportunity to take a very strong brand that's been primarily in the Southeast and Southwest and build upon its successes," Mrlik says. "The potential to grow the eatertainment concept even further is huge." Austin investment firm Blue Sage Capital LP owns the pizza chain, which operates about 150 stores in nine states. Blue Sage Chairman Jim McBride says Central Texas is a good market for its eatertainment concept. "We like that niche," McBride says. "We think it offers a great family experience at a reasonable price."

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Mr. Gatti's, LP
5912 Balcones Drive, Ste. 200
Austin, Texas

Phone: (512) 744-4982
Toll Free: (800) 635-8308

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