Though the pizza sector in the US is largely dominated by three players, that doesn’t mean other chains aren’t making a national push. Hungry Howie’s, a Michigan-based outfit that has 575 locations, is looking to add 40 to 50 stores this year. Known for its “flavored crust,” the company entered Idaho, Oregon and Wisconsin last year and has Delaware and Utah on tap for 2008. Though expansion is a priority for the chain, which was founded in 1973, Hungry Howie’s has deliberately tried not to over expand, says Jennifer Jackson, its director of marketing who also heads the real estate division. She recently spoke with about the company’s plans. You grown moderately since the business started but are you starting to ramp that up more?

Jackson: We’ve always had a very conservative approach to growth. We want to make sure that we can manage the growth that we do have. Our first store opened in 1973, and we started franchising in the early 1980s. We’re never going to grow to the point where we can’t handle it. We’ve kind of stayed at the same pace. You’re not going to see us all of a sudden open 100 stores one year. We’re going to stay at the point where our operations team is built up, and they’re ready. Once we have more consultants and representatives on staff, we’ll go ahead and work on opening more stores. I don’t think you’ll ever see us grow super fast.

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