Still family-owned while growing to 150 locations, this Toronto-based franchise success story has maintained its focus on people and premium products for nearly 60 years.
In 1963, Italian immigrant Sam Primucci had a vision of opening a pizzeria in what was then the northern reaches of Toronto and enlisted his three brothers to bring a taste of their homeland to Canadians. Eventually, Sam would become the last owner standing, but the company still flourished—especially after Pizza Nova opened its first franchised location in 1969. “At that time, franchising was still in the early stages as a business model, but they took the leap,” recounts Domenic Primucci, Sam’s son and current president. “They wanted to help people like themselves: immigrants with an entrepreneurial spirit who were new to the country. They took franchising as an opportunity to provide for them and their families through owning a business. It was a very noble start.”
That focus on giving back now reverberates to the communities Pizza Nova serves (all 150 locations are located in Ontario, within a couple of hours of its Toronto headquarters). Philanthropy is a core value of the company, with a recent fundraiser for Variety Village (helping children with disabilities) raising more than $200,000 in a single month, plus a yearly golf tournament that benefits an ever-evolving charity, among other efforts. Pizza Nova is also the official pizza of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team and hosts an annual conference and gala for all franchisees to enjoy ongoing education and an awards ceremony with their families.
After nearly 60 years, the brand continues to evolve while keeping its original focus on customer satisfaction via high-quality food and friendly service. Pizza Nova offers a single phone number for all orders systemwide, which is featured in frequent radio ads alongside a now-iconic ’80s-era jingle and Domenic’s own voice explaining the pizzeria’s story, products and ingredients. Meanwhile, a central commissary and distribution center maintains consistency across locations, and a new app and loyalty program are in the works for 2022.
To Domenic, such longtime success has been all about finding a niche—then overdelivering and consistently improving. “We consider ourselves more in the premium category, and that’s how we always positioned ourselves in the marketplace,” he explains. “We use tomatoes picked and packed within six hours, the best mozzarella blend in Canada, and olive oil from Italy. We were the first in Canada to offer pepperoni without antibiotics or hormones. We’re always looking to better ourselves in whatever we do—whether it’s a marketing flyer or the staffing at our call center. And we make sure every franchisee fits the mold of what we strive for: to deliver excellence every single day.”
Tracy Morin is PMQ’s senior copy editor and the editor of PizzaVegan.com.