Luigi's Franchising

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Lunch or dinner at Luigi's New York Style Pizzeria on Highway 19 North in Meridian offers everything from spaghetti to calzones to pizza prepared in a homemade Italian style. Owner Gus Lisi said it's time for him to franchise his unique cooking secrets.

"We're going to franchise because we want individual owners in every one of the places," said Lisi, who also operates several Subway Sandwich Shops. "The love that we put into our food and the franchise. We're not going to be another just sell franchise and forget about it. We're going to be strict. They've got to produce the product that we put out. The authentic stuff. Stuff that my mother taught me to cook."

Lisi said there is a difference between his food and other Italian or pizza restaurants.

"It's the authentic part," said Lisi. "We're not just a pizza place and yes, it does say New York Style Pizzeria but we put out Italian cuisine with it. That's what people want. They're tired of the everyday thing. They want something that has extra special flavor."

Lisi thinks big. To own a Luigi's will require a substantial investment.

"The investment could be anywhere from $210,000 up to as much as a million dollars if you wanted to do that," he said. "It all depends on the kind of building you wanted to put up."

The entrepreneur said he'll first sell 12 franchises in Mississippi and has people in line already that want to do it.

"Lawyers are in place. Contracts already signed. It ain't something I'm just dreaming right now," said Lisi. "Two years ago it was a dream. The lawyer's already there. I give up a percentage of my business to have these guys come on board to help me develop the company. That's how we're doing it. It's named after my grandfather because he brought us to this country. If it wasn't for him I'd still be riding donkeys in Italy. But because of him, here we are."

Lisi is as confident of the future as he is faithful to the past.