Toppers Pizza is coming to Northern Virginia, and Annandale could be one of the locations.
Franchisee Mike McLaughlin has an agreement with the company to open 22 Toppers with 13 in Northern Virginia and the rest in southern Maryland.
Several possibilities in Annandale are under consideration but nothing has been confirmed. “We don’t have a specific location. It depends on the availability of real estate,” McLaughlin says.
He is also looking at potential sites in Bailey’s Crossroads, Seven Corners, Arlington, Tysons Corner, Falls Church, Fairfax, and Alexandria. It could take as long as seven years for all 13 Toppers to open in Northern Virginia, says McLaughlin, who operates nine Five Guys restaurants in Maryland and formerly worked for Papa John’s and Domino’s.
Toppers focuses on delivery and online ordering and provides seating for only about eight to 10 people, says Mark Cairns, director of franchise development at Toppers headquarters in Whitewater, Wis.
The chain has doubled in the past four years and now has 76 outlets in 13 states. The goal is to have three up and running in Northern Virginia by the end of 2017, Cairns says.
The company prefers to open new spots in existing retail centers, rather than develop new buildings, adds Mac Malchow, director of field marketing.
“We’re a great alternative to Domino’s and Papa John’s,” Cairns adds. “They do a massive amount of volume. We’re stealing market share by giving customers better options with fresher, unique ingredients.”
One example is the Toppers pizza topped with mac and cheese. There’s also a pizza with tater tots, mozzarella, bacon, green onions, and ranch dressing. The Buffalo chicken pizza is Toppers’ biggest seller. Pizzas with traditional toppings, like sausage and pepperoni, are popular, too.
Another menu item is “Topperstix,” a breadstick made of pizza dough with Wisconsin cheddar and garlic plus l6 choices for dipping sauces.
In searching for locations, Cairns says the company is looking for existing sites close to a main road with plenty of parking. While the company prefers existing strip malls, he says it has to find one that allows late-night hours – Toppers is open until 3 a.m. – and doesn’t already have a pizza place with a non-compete agreement.
“Annandale is a great market for delivering pizza,” McLaughlin says, noting he’s interested in opening a Toppers in areas that already have Domino’s and Papa John’s. “Annandale is a market we’d like to come into.”