TORONTO — “You should see a teenager’s eyes light up when they see the pizza-in-a-cone concept,” said Eli Turkienicz, president and master franchisor of The Mad Italian, at yesterday’s opening of the chain’s third location on the Danforth in Toronto.
“It’s basically a pizza in a cone,” said Turkienicz, explaining the Zazzu hot-cone concept. “It’s a new type of food where you can put any ingredients inside the cone — a baked dough — that appeal to you,” he said.
Traditional Italian flavours are available, but there’s also spicy barbecue chicken, turkey club, macaroni and cheese, pulled pork and a tortiere cone ($3.99 to $5.49).
The restaurateur conceptualized the idea for The Mad Italian at a local gelato shop at Bayview and Eglinton. “It was owned by an Italian family from Rome; their background was in the gelato business, and they brought third-generation gelato recipes with them,” explained Turkienicz. A year after opening, the family sold the concept and The Mad Italian was born.
According to Turkienicz, sales at the two original locations — Bayview Avenue and College Street — are solid. But, to remain buoyant in the off-season, and stand apart from the growing competition, The Mad Italian sells zazzus. The menu also includes alcohol, sandwiches, coffee and more than 50 flavours of gelato, including Spicy Chocolate, Ferrero Roché and Guinness.
Franchises are available at an initial fee of $25,000, royalties of five per cent, advertising of 1.5 per cent and a capital cost averaging $260,000. “Our target in the next year is to open two or three franchise locations in the GTA,” said the shop owner. After those stores are opened, he plans to launch five stores per year within the Golden Horseshoe area.